THE STANDARD MAP OF ASIA FOR FORTY YEARS
Asiae Nova Descriptio. From the Theatrum
Full hand color, 14-1/2” x 19-1/2”. Latin text on verso. Fine condition.
Antwerp, 1570 or later
The first general map of Asia from a European atlas, and the standard map of Asia for more than forty years. This is an early state of the map, printed from the first copperplate, which Ortelius replaced in 1575.
The map is a reduction of Ortelius’s own 1567 separately-issued wall map of Asia, which in turn was largely based on the work of the great Italian cartographer Giacomo Gastaldi. The map’s configuration for the Phillipines and the adjoining parts of the East Indies is quite different than that on the 1565 Gastaldi, however, and Ortelius also adds western New Guinea and a bit of the mythological southern continent (“Terrae Incognitae Australis.”) The configuration for Japan is based on Jesuit sources. The Korean Peninsula is absent, but China, India, the Arabian Peninsula, and most of the remaining parts of the continent are clearly recognizable, if in an early form.
The Theatrum was among the most important of all Renaissance books. It was the first modern atlas – the first systematic collection of maps that included all parts of the world, with the maps in a uniform format.
Ortelius collected the best available maps of the various countries and had them re-engraved in a uniform size. It is the first printed book of any kind to footnote sources. The maps are some of the most beautiful ever published, with great cartouches and embellishments in the mannerist style.
Mapping the Continent of Asia, 5; Walter, Japan, IIc; Cortazzi, Isle of Gold, p. 82; Van den Broecke, Ortelius Atlas Maps, 6; Van der Krogt, Koemans Atlantes Neerlandici, IIIB, 8000:31A.
Inventory No. 7966