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Hendrik van Schoel, Bologna in Francia (Boulogne)

Hendrik van Schoel, Bologna in Francia (Boulogne)

  • $ 8,500.00

Hendrik van Schoel (c.1565-1622)

Bologna in Francia (Boulogne, France)

Venice, ca. 1605 (orig. Rome, ca. 1602)


Sheet size: 19 ¼ x 16 ½”


In the 16th century, Italy was at the forefront of cartographic development and discovery. This was due to a num- ber of different factors: Italy's geographical position in the center of the Mediterranean, the skill and daring of Italian explorers, and the tradition of craftsmanship of the peninsula's artisans. Many of the most important early explorers were Italian, from Marco Polo to Columbus, Vespucci to Verrazano. Italy was also the first to revive an interest in classical geography during the Renaissance, and the first editions of Ptolemy were printed in Rome, Bologna, and Florence. Venice, in particular, was a center of cartographic activity. Venetian ships made regular trading voyages to the Levant and into the Black Sea, to the ports of Spain and Portugal, and along the coasts of Western Europe. Among the accomplished publishers of maps who were active in Renaissance Venice, Antonio Lafreri was the foremost in innovation and quality.

Lafreri was one of the preeminent publishers of maps in 16th and early 17th-century Italy, during the period when the cities of Rome and Venice came to dominate map-publishing in Europe. At this point the art was still in its infancy ~ the earliest printed map had been published in 1472, and the first atlas in 1477, but these had been crude attempts based on the geographical work of the 2nd-century geographer Ptolemy. In the sixteenth century, individual mapmakers throughout Europe undertook the detailed and accurate mapping of their cities, provinces, states and countries. Much of this work was circulated in the form of wall-maps, multiple sheets assembled together to hang on the walls of palaces, administrative offices and the like. In such circumstances they were very susceptible to damage; many are now very rare or have been lost altogether. One of the important roles of the Italian publishers was in using these maps as a basis for their own smaller versions, thus preserving the geographical information (and sometimes disseminating it more widely than the original publisher).

Lafreri gathered and sold the best existing maps and, possibly at the suggestion of one of his clients, began to bind collections of them in one volume for convenience; for this reason, some have credited him with inventing the atlas. Many extremely rare maps have survived only because they were bound by Lafreri, and thereby protected from damaging light, moisture, and general neglect. This map was drafted and first issued by Hendrik van Schoel in Rome, and then included by Lafreri in one of his atlases which, like the majority to come out of his workshop, was made to order according to the specifications (and geographical interests) of an individual client. It shows the French city of Boulogne as it appeared during a siege by the British in the mid-16th century. Boulogne was captured by the British in 1544 and restored to the French in 1550. This plate depicts the English defenders besieged by the French, with French troop formations moving against the walls. In order to put the city in a larger geographical context, Italy and the southern coast of Spain are included below the view of the city itself. This is a fascinating and extremely rare map, published by one of the most crucial figures in the history of cartography.

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