Typus Orbis Terrarum

Typus Orbis Terrarum

Size : 42,7 x 55,2 cm
Color : Hand Colored
Condition : Restaurations expertly done
Technique : Copper engraving
Reference : 588-12

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Ortelius' third and final edition of his famous world map with medallions in the corners.

This map by Ortelius is regarded as the most famous world maps to be published. The world is illustrated on a beautiful planisphere based on Mercator's projection of 1569. Despite Ortelius' constant revisions and updates, this map has recorded some of the common fallacies of the time. The South American western coastline was not properly projected until the third state of the second edition, between 1587 and 1588. The Solomon  Islands are mis-projected, similarly Japan and New Guinea. And a lot of guess work can be observed in the depiction of North America, where the Saint Lawrence river flow is extended towards the center of the contient.

It was included his his atlas first atlas to be published Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (1570) and was included in its Dutch, French German and later Latin version. Shirley identifies three editions and six states published during the second half of the 16th century with the exception of the last state that was published around 1628. The present copy is the map in the first state of its third edition engraved on a new plate and published in 1587 with some geographic revisions. The first two editions of this map are illustrated by clouds in the corners, whereas the third edition is distinguished by four decorative medallions containing latin texts in the corners.

Shirley [122]


Abraham Ortelius (1527-1598) was a Renaissance cartographer and geographer, considered to be one of the founders of modern cartography. He was born in 1527 in Antwerp, then part of the Spanish Netherlands (now Belgium). Ortelius began his career as a map colourist, buying maps and colouring them before selling them on. His early interest in cartography soon developed into a passion for scientific geography.

During his travels, particularly in the company of renowned geographers such as Gerard Mercator, Ortelius acquired an in-depth knowledge of geography. It was thanks to these travels and his encounters with other scholars that he was inspired to create his most famous work, the "Theatrum Orbis Terrarum".

Ortelius published his first major work, a world map in eight sheets, in 1564. He continued to produce various maps, including one of Egypt in 1565, a plan of Brittenburg Castle on the coast of the Netherlands, and a map of Asia, before publishing his masterpiece in 1570.

Ortelius' "Theatrum Orbis Terrarum" is considered to be the first true modern atlas. In its first edition of 1570, it contained 53 maps, but was rapidly expanded with each successive edition. This revolutionary atlas harmonised the formats and styles of maps available at the time, while retaining the names of the maps' original authors. Ortelius also created a catalogue of map authors, updated from edition to edition, to recognise the contributions of numerous geographers.

The success of the "Theatrum" greatly contributed to the spread of geographical culture in Europe at the end of the 16th century. After Ortelius's death in 1598, his atlas continued to be published and improved by other editors, leaving a lasting legacy in the field of cartography.