1688 Rosaccio / Moretti Woodcut Map of Europe

[Untitled map of Europe]. - Main View

1688 Rosaccio / Moretti Woodcut Map of Europe


Scarce Miniature Europe.


[Untitled map of Europe].
  1688 (undated)     5.25 x 6.75 in (13.335 x 17.145 cm)


This attractive woodcut map of Europe was executed by Giuseppe Moretti for inclusion in the 1688 edition of Giuseppe Rosaccio's Teatro del Mondo. It is an entertaining composition, embellished with tents indicating the nomadic hordes historically menacing Poland and Lithuania from above the Black Sea. The production of a woodcut map in this period is itself unusual, especially coming from Italy. Venetian and Roman mapmakers had been working on copperplate well before that technology had passed to Antwerp and Amsterdam.
A Closer Look
The map illustrates the continent, as well as islands in the north Atlantic such as the Orkneys and Shetlands; its detail is drawn from Ortelius’ 1570 folio Europa; it contains detail not present on the miniature map appearing in Ortelius’ Epitome atlases. For example, the phantom island of Demar is shown off the coast of Ireland (albeit in the location that Ortelius had placed the island of Brasil). Iceland is shown, as is the southern coast of Greenland. The latter contains the imaginary monastery of St. Thomas, which Ortelius had adopted from the fraudulent geography of Nicolo Zeno.
Publication History and Census
This map was produced by Giuseppe Moretti for the 1688 Antonio Pisarri edition of Rosaccio's Teatro del Mondo. Both this book, and separate maps from it, are scarce. We see no examples of the map in OCLC, and seven examples of the 1688 book. A 1724 edition exists, apparently using the same blocks; only five of these are listed in institutional collections and no separate maps.


Giuseppe Rosaccio (approx. 1530 - 1620) was a Venetian physician, astrologer, and geographer. He was born in the Venetian city of Pordenone, and graduated from the University of Padua having studied philosophy, medicine and law. He moved to seek his fortune in Tricesimo, where he worked as a physician and may have taught literature. His legal education led him to serve as a judge there in civil trials during the period between 1561 and 1575. 1607 found him in Florence in the service of Grand Duke Cosimo II (patron of Galileo). Rosaccio married, and had at least two children: Leonardo - who died on April 30, 1603 - and Luigi (also rendered as Alouisio), who collaborated with his father in his geographical work.

He was a prolific author, producing as many as forty works disseminating new knowledge (to a lay audience, using the Italian vernacular). These were mostly on the topics of astronomy and his primary interest, geography. He ventured afield on an array of subjects, including essays on Islam. He remains best known for his geographical texts, which were popular and republished in multiple editions. These included a 1598 edition of Ptolemy, a 1607 geography of Italy, and his final work - the 1610 Discorso nel quale si tratta brevemente della nobiltà, et eccellenza della Terra rispetto à Cieli, et altri elementi, was dedicated to Cosimo II and contained novel information on the American continent, including Drake and Cavendish' circumnavigations. This work included a map drawn by his son Alouisio. More by this mapmaker...

Abraham Ortelius (April 14, 1527 - June 28, 1598) also known as Ortels, was a cartographer, geographer, and cosmographer of Brabant, active in Antwerp. He was the creator of the first modern atlas, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum and is a seminal figure in the history of cartography. Along with Gerard Mercator and Gemma Frisius, he was a founder of the Netherlandish school of cartography. His connections with Spain - culminating in his 1575 appointment as Royal Cartographer to King Phillip II of Spain - gave him unmatched access to Spanish geographical knowledge during a crucial period of the Age of Discovery. Ortelius was born in 1527 in Antwerp. In 1547 he entered the Antwerp Guild of Saint Luke as an illuminator of maps. He began trading in books, prints, and maps, traveling regularly to the Frankfurt book and print fair, where in 1554 he met Mercator. He accompanied Mercator on journeys throughout France in 1560 and it was at this time, under Mercator's influence, that he appears to have chosen his career as a scientific geographer. His first published geographic work appeared in 1564, an eight-sheet cordiform world map. A handful of other maps preceded the 1570 publication of the first edition of the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, which would prove to be his life work. Appearing with but 53 maps in its first edition, Ortelius' work expanded with new maps added regularly. By 1592, it had 134 maps. Many of Ortelius' maps remained the standard for nearly a century. He traveled extensively, but his genius was as a compiler, locating the best informed maps on which to base his own. His contacts throughout Europe and extending even (via the Portuguese) to the Far East were formidable. Moreover, many of his maps were based on his own scholarship, particularly his historical works. His theories of geography were particularly ahead of his time with respect to the notion of continental drift, the possibility of which he mused on as early as 1596, and which would be proven correct centuries later.

In a sense his greatest achievement was his successful navigation of the religious and political violence endemic to his city throughout his adult life: The Dutch Revolt, or Eighty Years' War (1568 - 1648), fully embroiled Antwerp. Although outwardly and officially recognized as Catholic (Arias Montanus vouched for Ortelius' Catholic orthodoxy prior to his appointment as Royal Geographer), Ortelius was able to separate himself from the religious furor which characterized the war in the low countries. Ortelius showed a glimpse of himself in a letter to a friend, regarding humanist Justus Lipsius: 'I do not know whether he is an adherent of the Pope or a Calvinist, but if he has ears to hear, he will neither be one nor the other, for sins are committed on both sides'. Ortelius' own explorations of Biblical history in his maps, and the Christogram contained in his own motto, suggest him to be a religious man, but his abjuration of political religious authorities mark him as an individualist. His tombstone at St Michael's Præmonstratensian Abbey in Antwerp bears the inscription, Quietis cultor sine lite, uxore, prole. ('served quietly, without accusation, wife, and offspring.') Learn More...


Rosaccio, G., Teatro del mondo, (Bologna: Pisarri) 1688.    


Good. Left margin extended with thread holes in border filled in ms. Else very good.