Mappa Mundi 1457

Florence, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Portolano 1


+39 333 9860 410

Illuminated Facsimiles

Mappa Mundi 1457

Florence, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Portolano 1

ALTERNATIVE TITLES – Hec est vera cosmographor(um) cum marino accordata [descri]cio, quoru(n)d(am) <i(n)> frivolis narracionibus reiectis, 1457 – Mappamondo Genovese.
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION – Map on parchment, dimensions c. 795 x 395 mm.
ORIGIN – Spain (Castile). The Genoese origin of Portolano 1 was long endorsed by some scholars. This theory was based on the fact that on the outside of the graphic frame (in the upper left part), there is a coat of arms with a red cross on a dark field, which is reflected inside the map in four banners drawn in correspondence with the city of Genoa and three important Genoese colonies on the Black Sea. In this coat of arms has been correctly recognised the cross of St. George, which appears in the emblem of the maritime Republic of Genoa. However, no documentary basis attests to the map’s Genoese origin, and this hypothesis proved to be at least doubtful in light of the analysis of the language in which the cartouches and place names are written. Moreover, other iconographic elements, potentially as relevant as coats of arms in identifying the provenance of a map, contradict the Genoese origin of Portolano 1. In the depiction of Italy, for example, the only city represented with a relevant perspective drawing is Venice.
DATING – 15th century (1457).
PATRONAGE AND OWNERS – Rather than indicating the Genoese provenance of the map and its authors, the presence of the St. George’s cross could more plausibly indicate the origin of the commissioning family, or of one of its owners (in which case its execution would be subsequent to the making of the map).
GENRE – Geography / Maps.
CONTENT – The map is oriented north, but to read it one must gradually rotate it, due to the fact that the legends, toponyms and iconography are perpendicular to the coastal perimeter. It depicts Europe, Africa, Asia – the three parts into which the ancient ecumene was divided before 1492. Two reduction scales are drawn outside the ellipse. Portolano 1 is a very advanced work: it is a veritable summa of the literary and geographical innovations available and debated around the middle of the 15th century, a document that well delineates the imago mundi just prior to the navigations of the end of the century.
LANGUAGE – Italian, Spanish.
SCRIPT – Littera Textualis.
ARTISTS – The world map was made by a cartographer, probably of Castilian origin, with the help of an illuminator and possibly also a copyist, all of whom remain unknown.
DECORATION – The iconographic apparatus is very rich and extensive use has been made of gold for its decoration. Fifty-six cartouches and approximately three hundred and fifty place names are depicted on the parchment.
STYLE – Renaissance.

Data sheet: Illuminated Facsimiles

Mappa Mundi


Full-size color reproduction of the entire original document – The facsimile reproduces as close as possible the physical characteristics of the original document, with the aim to substitute it in the scientific research and in the libraries of the bibliophile collectors.
PublisherIstituto della Enciclopedia Italiana – Treccani (Rome, 2008).
Series – Tesori Svelati.
Limited edition – Limited edition of 750 copies. Twenty non-selling copies not numbered are reserved for the Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana.
Certificate of authenticity – The authenticity certificate on the back of the map bears the double signature of Francesco Paolo Casavola (President of the Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana from 1998 to 2009) and Antonia Ida Fontana (Director of the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze from 1996 to 2010).
Support material and printing – The facsimile was printed at the press on parchment by L’Arte del Libro di Todi.
Commentary – Commentary volume in Italian, size 23 x 28 cm, canvas cover, 195 pages, colour plates. Introduction and commentary by Cattaneo, Angelo. Contents: Introduzione – L’imago mundi medievale e rinascimentale – La struttura narrativa del Portolano 1 – Disegnare un mappamondo nel Quattrocento – Sintassi cartografica – Le matrici culturali – Il sapere del cartografo – Iconografia cartografica – Note – Fonti e studi – Cartigli e toponimi.
Slipcase – The map is housed in a leather and canvas folder, made by Legatoria Rigoldi of Concorezzo (Milan).

Copyright photos: Illuminated Facsimiles

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