1730 Homann Map of Southern Italy

Novissima et exactissima Totius Regni Neapolis Tabula Praesentis Belli Statui Accomodata et Exhibita. - Main View

1730 Homann Map of Southern Italy


A bold example.


Novissima et exactissima Totius Regni Neapolis Tabula Praesentis Belli Statui Accomodata et Exhibita.
  1730 (undated)     22.75 x 19.75 in (57.785 x 50.165 cm)     1 : 1100000


This is a beautiful 1730 old-color example of Johann Baptist Homann's map of the Kingdom of Naples, which comprises southern Italy. The map depicts the region from Terracina to the Adriatic Sea, and from the Adriatic Sea to northern Sicily. Countless towns and villages are shown and named, including major cities such as Naples, Messina, and Capua.
Pregnant With Allegory
The map's title describes the map as 'adapted and presented to the current war'; nowhere on the map are these adaptations so present as they are in the magnificent allegorical title cartouche. The theme of the scene was famous, and would have been familiar to any literate European of the map's audience: the myth of Perseus and Andromeda.
The Myth
Andromeda was the daughter of the Ethiopian king and queen Cepheus and Cassiopeia; the vain Cassiopeia boasted of being more beautiful than Juno, the queen of the gods. Bad move: Juno had Neptune send a sea monster Cetus to menace the Ethiopian coast - until to appease Neptune, Cepheus was forced to sacrifice his beautiful virgin daughter, Andromeda, to Cetus by chaining her (naked!) to rocks on the shore. Perseus, passing by, noticed the beautiful girl and made a deal with her parents that he would save her on the condition that he be given her hand in marriage. The king and queen agree.
The Allegory
In this iteration of 'Perseus and Andromeda', Andromeda is modestly and sumptuously dressed, and wears a crown. She is a regal figure, and in this context, almost certainly represents the Kingdom of Naples. Perseus, astride Pegasus, is carrying a shield bearing the arms of Charles VI, the Holy Roman Emperor; so Perseus here is either the Empire or the Emperor or both. The monster Cetus roils the waves, while in the background, an island volcano - possibly Stromboli - fumes. Flanking the title cartouche, the angriest putti we have ever seen lash at each other with swords. Contextually, the war that is alluded to both in the title and by the war-putti is the 1701-1714 War of the Spanish Succession. During the war, the Empire seized the Kingdom of Naples from Bourbon Spain, and retained the territory in the 1714 treaty of Rastatt. And so, like Perseus, Charles VI would go to war to 'rescue' Naples - on the condition that she become his possession thereafter.

There may have been a cautionary element as well. While some depictions of the Perseus and Andromeda in 16th and 17th century art depict scenes much like this one, some depict Perseus plummeting headlong into the waves after Pegasus, stung by a fly sent by the jealous gods, threw the hero off his back. The classically-educated audience for this map would have been well aware of all the parts of the myth as they applied.

Another beautifully-engraved cartouche embellishing the map's scales appears at the bottom right; here, the arms of the Kingdom of Naples is flanked by two more putti; one also brandishes a sword, but the other points, with some alarm, at the violently erupting Mount Vesuvius.

This superb map was derived from Frederic de Wit's 1680 Regnum Neapolis, which in turn was among the maps informed by Giovanni Antonio Magini's monumental Italia Nuova, as is evidenced both by the map's meticulous detail, as well as certain telltale errors.
The Crypto-Island of 'M. Sardo'
As authoritative as Magini's 1608 wall map Italia Nuova was, one of its hallmarks was the placement of a mysterious mountainous island, 'M. Sardo', in the Gulf of Taranto. Despite being reproduced faithfully on near every 17th century map of the peninsula, the origins of this imaginary island have long been obscure. More recently, the scholar/collector Vladimirio Valerio discovered a notation on the Otranto map in the 1595 Stigliola manuscript atlas of the Kingdom of Naples (added to his collection in 1975). On that manuscript, a crude mountain-hump is mapped in the Gulf of Taranto - the first known instance in print or otherwise of any such 'M. Sardo' in those waters. While no such island or mountain actually exists, there is, near the tip of Otranto, a mountaintop village - Monte Sardo - notable for its visibility both from the Gulf of Otranto and the Gulf of Venice. Thus, the manuscript 'M. Sardo' is a crude coastal profile highlighting an observable coastal navigational feature. Valerio theorizes that, in compiling his masterpiece map of Italy, Magini consulted the Stigliola as the best and most detailed map of southern Italy. In doing so, he misinterpreted the navigational notation, preserving it as a literal mountain in the middle of the Gulf, and retaining the name M. Sardo. Magini's work was so authoritative that Blaeu copied the map, errors and all; and in turn, with few exceptions, the rest of the European mapmaking community followed.
Publication History and Census
This map was first engraved, possibly by Homann himself, for inclusion in his atlases. It was probably not done prior to 1707 (when the war moved to Naples) and it was certainly completed by 1716 (one of the earliest dates we see it in an atlas whose date is itself confirmed). The present example of this map, which includes the Imperial Privilege in the title cartouche, appears sometime between 1724 and 1730 after Homann's death and the firm's passage to his son, and is clearly a painstaking re-engraving. We see at least three plates used in the printing of this map: one dating to around 1716 (see Rumsey 12499.089) and another printed by the firm of Homann Heirs well into the 18th century (Rumsey 9753.036.) The present example appears to fall between these two. The map is well represented in institutional collections, but with the haphazard dating that characterizes OCLC listings for Homann's maps.


Johann Baptist Homann (March 20, 1664 - July 1, 1724) was the most prominent and prolific map publisher of the 18th century. Homann was born in Oberkammlach, a small town near Kammlach, Bavaria, Germany. As a young man Homann studied in a Jesuit school and nursed ambitions of becoming a Dominican priest before converting to Protestantism in 1687. Following his conversion, Homann moved to Nuremberg and found employment as a notary. Around 1693 Homan briefly relocated to Vienna, where he lived and studied printing and copper plate engraving until 1695. Afterwards he returned to Nuremberg where, in 1702, he founded the commercial publishing firm that would bear his name. In the next five years Homann produced hundreds of maps and developed a distinctive style characterized by heavy detailed engraving, elaborate allegorical cartouche work, and vivid hand color. The Homann firm, due to the lower cost of printing in Germany, was able to undercut the dominant French and Dutch publishing houses while matching the diversity and quality of their output. By 1715 Homann's rising star caught the attention of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles the VI, who appointed him Imperial Cartographer. In the same year he was also appointed a member of the Royal Academy of Sciences in Berlin. Homann's prestigious title came with a number of important advantages including access to the most up to date cartographic information as well as the "Privilege". The Privilege was a type of early copyright offered to a few individuals by the Holy Roman Emperor. Though not as sophisticated as modern copyright legislation, the Privilege did offer a kind of limited protection for several years. Most all J. B. Homann maps printed between 1715 and 1730 bear the inscription "Cum Priviligio" or some variation. Following Homann's death in 1724, the management of the firm passed to his son, Johann Christoph Homann (1703 - 1730). J. C. Homann, perhaps realizing that he would not long survive his father, stipulated in his will that the company would be inherited by his two head managers, Johann Georg Ebersberger (1695 - 1760) and Johann Michael Franz (1700 - 1761), and that it would publish only under the name 'Homann Heirs'. This designation, in various forms (Homannsche Heirs, Heritiers de Homann, Lat Homannianos Herod, Homannschen Erben, etc..) appears on maps from about 1731 onwards. The firm continued to publish maps in ever diminishing quantities until the death of its last owner, Christoph Franz Fembo (1781 - 1848). Learn More...


Homann, J. B., Atlas Novus Terrarum Orbis Imperia Regna et Status Exactis Fabulis Geographice Demonstrans. (Nuremberg: Homann), c. 1730.    


Very good. Light toning at extremities of margins. Fine original color.


OCLC 630883197. cf. Rumsey 12499.089.