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1740 Albrizzi Map of the World in Hemispheres

Mappamondo, o sia Descrizione Generale del Globo Terrestre ed Acuatico. - Main View

1740 Albrizzi Map of the World in Hemispheres


Scarce and important 18th century Italian map of the world.



Mappamondo, o sia Descrizione Generale del Globo Terrestre ed Acuatico.
  1740 (undated)     12 x 14 in (30.48 x 35.56 cm)     1 : 135000000


A striking 1750 double hemisphere map of the world by the Italian map publisher Giambattista Albrizzi. This is one of the most interesting and decorative world maps to appear in a mid-18th century atlas. Like most Italian school cartographers of this period, Albrizzi's follows established cartographic convention but integrates elaborate allegorical border work and other decorative elements, thus creating a unique and exceptional production. This map's elaborate allegorical surround, possibly its most exciting element, was drawn by the Italian artist Giovanni Battista Piazetta (c. 1682 - 1754). Piazetta presents the four continents as female figures. America appears in the upper left wearing a stylized American Indian headdress. Europe appears in the upper right with a golden crown - suggestive of global sovereignty. Asia is set in the lower left and wears a turban with camels in the background. Africa is in the lower right quadrant and, in an Eden-like display, frolics with a lioness and her cubs.

Cartographically, Albrizzi follows the world map of Guillaume Delisle as reissued c. 1730 by Isaac Tirion. As consequence there are a number of interesting elements worthy of note throughout:

In North America, California has been reattached to the mainland of North America following the discoveries of the Kino expedition of the early 1700s. The northwestern part of North America, still largely unexplored, has been left blank, though the lands supposedly discovered by Jean de Gama do peak out from the Asian side of the map. In the better known parts of North America the Mississippi is clearly mapped with its major tributaries. The Rocky Mountains make an embryonic appearance north of New Mexico. Far to the north, the Hudson Bay and Baffin Bay, along with Greenland, form a closed series of seas with minimal suggestion of a Northwest Passage. Only one possible westward route is presented, an opening in the northwestern part of the Hudson Bay, which is labeled 'Ne Ultra' or 'Nothing More.' The clear rejection of a Northwest Passage to the Pacific is a bold move in direct opposition to colonial wishful thinking, particularly on the part of England and France, both of whom were actively searching for just such a route.

South America is typically well mapped along its coast which is in sharp contrast to its vague and speculative interior. Nonetheless the cartographer does make a number of advances over many earlier maps. He does away with Raligh's Lake Parima and El Dorado, commonly rendered in Guiana, while at the same time advancing a more significant Lac de Xarayes. The large and prominent Lac de Xarayes is rendered as the northern terminus of the Paraguay River. The Xarayes, a corruption of 'Xaraies' meaning 'Masters of the River,' were an indigenous people occupying what are today parts of Brazil's Matte Grosso and the Pantanal. When Spanish and Portuguese explorers first navigated the Paraguay River, as always in search of El Dorado, they encountered the vast Pantanal flood plain at the height of its annual inundation. Understandably misinterpreting the flood plain as a gigantic inland sea, they named it after the local inhabitants, the Xaraies. The Laguna de los Xarayes, accessible only through the Gate of Kings, almost immediately began to appear on early maps of the region and, at the same time, took on a legendary aspect. The Lac or Laguna Xarayes was often considered to be a gateway to the Amazon and the Kingdom of El Dorado.

Moving across the map to the Eastern Hemisphere we are immediately struck by the map's innovative and fascinating rendering of the discoveries in the South Pacific including Australia (Nova Ollanda), New Zealand, New Guinea, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands. The hypothetical polar landmass called Terre Australi, is here labeled, but curiously not rendered. Terre Australi was a massive continent conjectured to occupy much of the Southern Hemisphere. It was commonly believed that Terre Australi must exist to counterbalance the great weight of the Asian continent in the Northern Hemisphere just as the Americas counterbalanced Europe, Africa and Asia. Australia (Nova Ollanda) is here joined with New Guinea. This curious move essentially relocates Terre Australis from the southern Polar region to the South Pacific. Much of this erroneous geography hails from the misguided explorations of the Spaniards Mendana and Quiros. Mendana discovered, then subsequently lost, the Solomon Islands in 1567 and is responsible for their inflated size on many maps, including this one. Pedro de Quiros, Mendana's pilot, lead his own expedition to the region shortly following the Mednana expedition and, though he was unable to rediscover the Solomon Islands, did land on the southern island of Vanuatu, which he named Terre Australe de S. Espirit, expressing in the naming his belief that he had at last discovered the conjectural Terra Australis. More specifically in Australia the discoveries of Abel Tasman on the western coast of Cape York during his second voyage are shown: R.di Yan Speult, (Jardine River), R.di Coen (Archer River), R.di Nassau (Nassau River) and R.di Caron (Flinders River). With the exception of R. de Caron, all had been named earlier by Cartensz in 1623. The Dutch discoveries by the van Leeuwin (1622), Nuyts (1627), and de Wit (1628) are also included.

Asia too exhibits a number of interesting cartographic elements. First, the cartographer does away with the popular Lake de Chimay, a hypothetical source for the great river systems of Southeast Asia. The Caspian Sea, though misshapen is correctly realigned along a north-south axis. Korea is firmly peninsular and is separated by Japan by the 'Mare Orientali' (East Sea). Curiously Japan, via Hokkaio (Terra d'Yeco) is overly large. Just to the northeast of Japan, separated from the mainland by the Detroit d'Uries, we find Terre de La Compagnie and, extending to the opposite side of the map where it becomes Terre de Gama. Terre de la Compagnie, essentially an embryonic mapping of the Kuril Islands, was discovered by Maerten de Vries and Cornelis Jansz Coen's 1643 VOC expedition to the region in search of Juan de Gama's land of gold and silver. Various subsequent navigators claim to have seen these lands, but it was left to Vitus Bering to finally debunk the myth. In 1729, Bering spent three days in the region looking for Juan de Gama's island but never found it. These curious islands remained on maps for about 50 years following Bering's voyages until the explorations of Cook confirmed the Bering findings. Further north still we can see some remnants of Nicholas Witsen's 1692 academic mapping of East Asia in the form of the Mari d'Amour and the unusual peninsula extending into the unmapped Arctic.

Africa, like South America, is well mapped coastally but exhibits a conjectural and tentative interior cartography. Here the cartographer does away with the traditional Ptolemaic two-lake theory regarding the source of the White Nile and instead sends the White Nile eastward toward the Niger. The theory that the White Nile had a Sub-Saharan source to the west was a popular 18th century interpretation of early texts on the region through it rarely appears on maps – this being an exception.

Throughout the map notes the routes of several important explorers including Drake, Tasman, Schouten, Mendana, Chaumont, and Magellan, among others. At the top of the map there is an armillary sphere. The title appears in a rococo cartouche at bottom center.

The map was drawn by G. Batta Piaceta and engraved by Guliano Giampicoli for G. Albrizzi's 1750 Atlante Novissimo che Contiene Tutte le Parti del Mondo. The work is essentially a decorative Italian reissue of Isaak Tirion's 1730 reissue of G. Delisle's c. 1700 atlas.


Giambattista Albrizzi (1698 - 1777), a.k.a. Giovanni Battista Albrizzi, was an Italian publisher and journalist active in Venice during the mid-18th century. Albrizzi was the scion of a well-established Venetian publishing dynasty and followed in the footsteps of his father, Girolamo Albrizzi, who founded the family printing business and is known for publishing the work the great Venetian cartography Vincenzo Coronelli. Giambattista Albrizzi is generally considered to be the most prominent 18th century Venetian publisher. Today he is best known for his friendship and collaboration with Giovanni Battista Piazzeta (1683 - 1754), a well know Venetian artist and engraver, whose drawings and engravings appear in many of Albrizzi's publications, including his maps. Giambattista Albrizzi's cartographic work, while not particularly innovative in terms of content, often featured elaborate decorative elements designed by Piazzeta. Through the integration of such decorative elements, Albrizzi hopped to revive the reputation of Venetian publishing, which since the late 17th century, had fallen in regard since the days of Girolamo. His work helped lay the foundations for Italian school decorative cartography in the late 18th and early 19th century, including the work of Antonio Zatta, among others. In addition to Albrizzi's work as a map and book publisher, he also issued a weekly journal, Novelle della Repubblica delle Lettere, a kind of early newspaper that played an important role in Venetian business and intellectual life. Learn More...

The De L'Isle family (fl. c. 1700 - c. 1760) (also written Delisle) were, in composite, a mapmaking tour de force who redefined early 18th century European cartography. Claude De L'Isle (1644 -1720), the family patriarch, was Paris based a historian and geographer under Nicholas Sanson. De L'Isle and his sons were proponents of the school of "positive geography" and were definitive figures, defining the heights of the Golden Age of French Cartography. Of his twelve sons, four, Guillaume (1675 - 1726), Simon Claude (1675 - 1726), Joseph Nicholas (1688 - 1768) and Louis (1720 - 1745), made a significant contributions to cartography. Without a doubt Guillaume was the most remarkable member of the family. It is said that Guillaume's skill as a cartographer was so prodigious that he drew his first map at just nine years of age. He was tutored by J. D. Cassini in astronomy, science, mathematics and cartography. By applying these diverse disciplines to the vast stores of information provided by 18th century navigators, Guillaume created the technique that came to be known as "scientific cartography", essentially an extension of Sanson's "positive geography". This revolutionary approach transformed the field of cartography and created a more accurate picture of the world. Among Guillaume's many firsts are the first naming of Texas, the first correct map of the Mississippi, the final rejection of the insular California fallacy, and the first identification of the correct longitudes of America. Stylistically De L'Isle also initiated important changes to the medium, eschewing the flamboyant Dutch style of the previous century in favor of a highly detailed yet still decorative approach that yielded map both beautiful and informative. Guillaume was elected to the French Academie Royale des Sciences at 27. Later, in 1718, he was also appointed "Premier Geographe du Roi", an office created especially for him. De L'Isle personally financed the publication of most of his maps, hoping to make heavy royalties on their sales. Unfortunately he met an untimely death in 1728, leaving considerable debt and an impoverished child and widow. De L'Isle's publishing firm was taken over by his assistant, Phillipe Buache who became, posthumously, his son in law. The other De L'Isle brothers, Joseph Nicholas and Louis De L'Isle, were employed in the Service of Peter the Great of Russia as astronomers and surveyors. They are responsible for cataloguing and compiling the data obtained from Russian expeditions in the Pacific and along the northwest coast of America, including the seminal explorations of Vitus Bering and Aleksei Chirikov. The De L'Isles, like their rivals the Vaugondys , must be considered speculative geographers. Speculative geography was a genre of mapmaking that evolved in Europe, particularly Paris, in the middle to late 18th century. Cartographers in this genre would fill in unknown areas on their maps with speculations based upon their vast knowledge of cartography, personal geographical theories, and often dubious primary source material gathered by explorers and navigators. This approach, which attempted to use the known to validate the unknown, naturally engendered many rivalries. The era of speculatively cartography effectively ended with the late 18th century explorations of Captain Cook, Jean Francois de Galaup de La Perouse, and George Vancouver. Learn More...

Isaak Tirion (1705 - 1765) was a Dutch publisher in Amsterdam. Born in Utrecht, Tirion quickly rose to prominence by publishing pamphlets, historical works, and most importantly, maps and atlases. He produced several atlases and Dutch town plans. His maps are mainly based on those of Guillaume de l'Isle. Tirion eventually relocated his printing house to the prestigious Kalverstraat. In his long career, he produced eight atlases in multiple editions, some of which were published posthumously until about 1784. Learn More...


Albrizzi, G. B., Atlante Novissimo che Contiene Tutte le Parti del Mondo, (Venice: Albrizzi) 1740.    


Very good. Original Platemark visible. Wide clean margins. Blank on verso.