Ortelius, Abraham. Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (atlas)

Starting: $60,000

Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (atlas)
1574
Copperplate engraving; coloured
Printed area: 40.5 x 28 (folio) cm; 15.9 x 11 in

Ortelius’ monumental work ‘theatrum Orbis terrarum’ is commonly regarded as the first modern atlas. The ‘Theatrum’ is generally considered a milestone in the history of cartography. The title page is of an allegorical nature. Seated at the top we see a female figure representing Europe, superior to all other figures. She wears the imperial crown, and carries a scepter in her right hand and a rudder in the form of a cross in her left hand. Asia is portrayed to the left, holding a container of incense in her left hand and wearing a gown beset with precious stones. To the right we see Africa, scantily clad and holding a palm branch in her hand. In foreground, on the left, America can also be found, forming perhaps the most interesting figure of this title page. She depicted to be naked and holds a cudgel in her right hand and a male human head in her left hand. Her weapons consist of a bow and arrows. Columbus and Amerigo Vespucci reported on how bows and arrows were used as weapons in America, as did Hans Staden, a German from Hamburg, who was held captive in Brazil for nine months. In 1554, he returned to Europe and he published a book about his adventures, which were later translated into Dutch and French and printed by Plantin.

From the Legendary Vladi Collection of Historical Maps which includes 280 examples of the finest quality antique maps brought to auction with proceeds benefiting MapAction, an organization that uses maps and technology to aid those in disaster-stricken areas. Each map is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by the consignor.