Atlas of the Worlds

Atlas of the Worlds – Artcodex – ms. I.III.24 – Biblioteca Queriniana (Brescia, Italy)

Venice (Italy) β€” Ca. 1540

From the workshop of Battista Agnese, arguably the most talented cartographer of the 16th century: scientific accuracy and the refined art of the Italian Renaissance combined in a delicate adorned masterpiece

  1. Battista Agnese (ca. 1500–1564) produced more than 80 atlases over the course of 30 years in Venice

  2. This manuscript consists of 9 nautical charts, 1 world map surrounded by 12 blowing Anemoi, and 1 zodiac chart

  3. Since the Baja California Peninsula is not depicted, it must have been created between 1536 and 1541

Atlas of the Worlds

Formerly 3,980  β‚¬
Special Offer until 01/31/2024 (like new) 1,499  β‚¬
  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Atlas of the Worlds

Battista Agnese was one of the most talented and prolific Italian cartographers of the 16th century, producing more than 80 atlases consisting of richly decorated and precise nautical charts over the course of 30 years for wealthy nobles, merchants, and officials. This work was commissioned by the Martinengo family, nobles from Brescia with strong ties to Venice. It consists of nine nautical charts, one world map surrounded by twelve blowing Anemoi, and one zodiac chart, which are richly colored in black, blue, gold, red, and green as well as gold. The place names are written in Latin, Venetian, Castilian, and Portuguese. Since the Baja California Peninsula is not depicted, this otherwise undated manuscript was created between 1536 and 1541. The precision with which the land route through the Isthmus of Panama to upper Peru was depicted indicates the importance of Peruvian mineral resources for the Republic of Venice. Therefore, this precious manuscript combines a scientific degree of accuracy with the refined art of the Italian Renaissance.

Atlas of the Worlds

For centuries, cartographic works were among the most valuable and expensive possessions of wealthy families. Not only was their content particularly valuable, it was also the extraordinary art of their production that made them so coveted. Often magnificently decorated, their appearance alone bore witness to this luxury. One of these fascinating works of art is the Atlas of the Worlds from the workshop of Battista Agnese (ca. 1500–1564). It is an outstanding testimony to this appreciation and is associated with the influential Martinengo family clan.

A Status Symbol for a Powerful Renaissance Family

The Martinengos were one of the most powerful families in 16th century Brescia. While the city was under the rule of the Republic of Venice, the family gained a reputation for constantly supplying the Venetian army with condottieri and infantry captains from their own ranks. A member of this important family commissioned the Atlas of the Worlds and thus acquired a splendid status symbol.

A masterpiece by Battista Agnese

The work was created in the famous Venetian workshop of Battista Agnese. The cartographer from Genoa is regarded as one of the most accomplished and productive cartographers of the 16th century and was responsible for dozens of high-quality cartographic works. As in Agnese's other works, cosmographic and cartographic images are the primary language of the atlas, which also incorporates contemporary geographical knowledge of the time – such as the Isthmus from Panama to Peru. Its depiction is also a remarkable historical testimony to the importance of Peruvian mineral resources and their trade for the Republic of Venice.

Gold-decorated Maps

The ornate atlas begins with a golden diagram of the twelve zodiac signs, which catch the eye in dark blue. It is followed by nine nautical charts, first showing the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans, followed by maps of the coastlines of the British Isles and the Iberian Peninsula. A central component are the three impressively accurate nautical charts of the Mediterranean, followed by a depiction of the Black Sea. The work concludes with Agnese's famous world map in oval projection, decorated at the edges with the twelve classical compass winds in the form of putti, depicted with their names in Latin and Greek. All the maps are in a delicate golden frame and have been artfully created with vibrant colors. A true masterpiece of cartography!


Alternative Titles
Atlas der zwei Welten
Atlante dei Mondi
Size / Format
13 maps (26 pages) / 23.8 Γ— 16.5 cm
Ca. 1540
13 finely crafted cards in bright colors
9 nautical charts
1 world map
1 zodiac chart
Martinengo family
Artist / School

Available facsimile editions:
Atlas of the Worlds – Artcodex – ms. I.III.24 – Biblioteca Queriniana (Brescia, Italy)
ArtCodex – Castelvetro di Modena, 2018
Limited Edition: 999 copies
Detail Picture

Atlas of the Worlds

The British Isles

No matter how detailed maps originating from the great cartographic centers of the Mediterranean were in their depictions of familiar shores, they usually have very vague depictions of the British Isles save for its most southernly coasts. Aside from giving a relatively accurate representation of the coastlines of England, Scotland, and Ireland, this map labels some of the more important of the smaller islands such as the Isle of Mann, but the distant Shetland Islands in the North Sea are merely a bunch of red dots.

Atlas of the Worlds – Artcodex – ms. I.III.24 – Biblioteca Queriniana (Brescia, Italy)
Single Page

Atlas of the Worlds

World Map

This is an early draft of one of the most popular and copied world maps and is significant for three reasons: it represents the most current geographic knowledge of European cartographers ca. 1540, it is rendered in an oval projection resembling a modern map, and it depicts the sea route chosen by Magellan for his circumnavigation of the globe.

Rather than being a practical aid for navigators, this watercolor was intended for display in the homes of the wealthy and educated and thus includes artistic details impractical for navigation. It is surprisingly accurate and can be dated between 1536 and 1541 because the Baja California Peninsula is not depicted. The Anemoi, ancient Greek wind gods who were each ascribed a cardinal direction from which their respective winds came, frame the map.

Atlas of the Worlds – Artcodex – ms. I.III.24 – Biblioteca Queriniana (Brescia, Italy)
Facsimile Editions

#1 Atlante dei Mondi

ArtCodex – Castelvetro di Modena, 2018

Publisher: ArtCodex – Castelvetro di Modena, 2018
Limited Edition: 999 copies
Binding: Bound in red leather embossed in gold with 4 clasps; wooden decorative box
Commentary: 1 volume
Language: German
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Formerly 3,980  β‚¬
Special Offer until 01/31/2024 (like new) 1,499  β‚¬
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