Ortelius Austria 1573


Abraham Ortelius after Wolfgang Lazius. “Austriae Ducatus Chorographia.” From Theatrum Orbis Terrarum. Antwerp: Aegidius Coppen Diesth, 1573. 13 142 x 18 1/4. Engraving. Full original hand color. Full margins. Oxidation to color, resulting in tiny hole in top right corner; all expertly conserved and lined with rice paper. Very good condition. Latin text on verso.

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A map of Austria from ‘the first modern atlas,’ Abraham Ortelius’ Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, or ‘Theater of the World.’ The publication of this atlas marked an epoch in the history of cartography, for it is the first uniform and systematic collection of maps of the whole world based only on contemporary knowledge since the days of Ptolemy. In the sixteenth century there was a great increase in interest in maps and charts, and Ortelius, as a businessman with a passion for history and cartography, was at the forefront in meeting this demand. Through his collecting and his antiques business, Ortelius was able to research contemporary maps, becoming the greatest expert of his day in the bibliography of maps. Ortelius based his work on the best maps available, drawing all the maps himself with the celebrated Frans Hogenberg cutting most of the plates. Unlike other atlas-makers, Ortelius cited the authors of the original maps from which he compiled his work. Thus it is not only for his unprecedented achievement in issuing the first modern atlas, but also for his thoughtful and rigorous methodology, that Ortelius belongs amongst the first rank of cartographers. He is very aptly called ‘the father of modern cartography.’

Along with their historic significance, Ortelius’ maps are noted for their delightful design and unusual Dutch coloring. They are decorative pieces in the finest Renaissance tradition, with elegant lettering, elaborate mannerist cartouches, sea monsters, sailing ships and other charming features. This map of Austria is no exception, with an especially nice cartouche and illustrations. First rate historically and aesthetically, a superb sixteenth-century document.