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1574 Ruscelli Map of Russia (Muscovy) and Ukraine

Moschovia Nvova Tavola. - Main View

1574 Ruscelli Map of Russia (Muscovy) and Ukraine


One of the earliest published maps of Russia.


Moschovia Nvova Tavola.
  c. 1574 (undated)     7.5 x 9.5 in (19.05 x 24.13 cm)


A beautiful example of Girolamo Ruscelli's c. 1574 map of Moscovie. Covers modern day Russia and the Ukraine from the Arctic to the Crimea and as far east as the Caspian Sea. Interest in this area peaked in Western Europe following the discoveries of Barentz, Hudson, and others in Russian Arctic which lead to the founding of the Muscovy Company in 1555. Traders, mostly English and Dutch, discovered they could access the wealth of Eastern and Central Asia by traveling south of Nova Zembla to the Karo Sea, then south some 600 miles by river to Moscow. At this time the Russian Tzar did not yet have access to the Baltic and consequently was at the mercy of the Hanseatic League, which controlled much of the region's trade. The opening of an Arctic route to Russia and the foundation of the Muscovy Company generated enormous wealth for the princes of Russia, eventually bringing the country into the fold of the western European community. Essentially a Ptolemaic style projection, this map was engraved by Girolamo Porro and published as part of Ruscelli's Italian translation of Ptolemy's Geographia. This map is considered one of the 'New Ptolemys,' that is, one of the 38 maps of the modern world drawn by Ruscelli's to supplement the original 27 maps that traditionally existed based upon Ptolemy's texts.


Girolamo Ruscelli (1500 - 1566) was an Italian polymath, humanist, editor, and cartographer active in Venice during the early 16th century. Born in Viterbo, Ruscelli lived in Aquileia, Padua, Rome and Naples before relocating to Venice, where he spent much of his life. Cartographically, Ruscelli is best known for his important revision of Ptolemy's Geographia, which was published posthumously in 1574. Ruscelli, basing his work on Gastaldi's 1548 expansion of Ptolemy, added some 37 new "Ptolemaic" maps to his Italian translation of the Geographia. Ruscelli is also listed as the editor to such important works as Boccaccio's Decameron, Petrarch's verse, Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, and various other works. In addition to his well-known cartographic work many scholars associate Ruscelli with Alexius Pedemontanus, author of the popular De' Secreti del R. D. Alessio Piemontese. This well-known work, or "Book of Secrets" was a compilation of scientific and quasi-scientific medical recipes, household advice, and technical commentary on a range of topics that included metallurgy, alchemy, dyeing, perfume making. Ruscelli, as Alexius, founded a "Academy of Secrets," a group of noblemen and humanists dedicated to unearthing "forbidden" scientific knowledge. This was the first known experimental scientific society and was later imitated by a number of other groups throughout Europe, including the Accademia dei Secreti of Naples. More by this mapmaker...

Girolamo Porro (1520 - 1604) was an Venetian engraver, humanist, illustrator, map maker, and publisher. Porro was born in Padua but lived most of his life in Venice. Porro worked with a number of important Venetian humanists including Camillo Camilli, Scipione Barbuo, Porcacchi, Ruscelli, and Ariosto. Cartographically Porro has produced only a few works, but these include such important works as the maps for Porcacchi's 1572 Isole piu Famose del Mondo (including the first obtainable specific map of North America), and the maps included with Ruscelli's 1574 Italian translation of Ptolemy's Geographia. Learn More...


Ptolemy, C., Geographia, Venice: G. Ruscelli and G. Porro, 1574    


Very good. Minor centerfold toning. Italian text on verso.


Phillips (Atlases) 167.