Nautical Atlas of Battista Agnese

Nautical Atlas of Battista Agnese – Istituto dell'Enciclopedia Italiana - Treccani – Banco Rari 32 – Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze (Florence, Italy)

Venice (Italy) — 1536–1564

Accented with fine gold and filigree: a masterpiece of Italian Renaissance cartography by the famous Battista Agnese

  1. Battista Agnese (ca. 1500–64) was one of the most important cartographers of the 16th century and worked for kings and even emperors

  2. This atlas is an outstanding example of his advanced Renaissance geography and cartography

  3. The nautical atlas is also a testimony to the European expansion in the 15th and 16th centuries

Nautical Atlas of Battista Agnese

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
Nautical Atlas of Battista Agnese

One of the most exciting epochs in world history becomes impressively tangible in this cartographic work of art: the Age of Discovery of the 15th and 16th centuries, during which the image of the world was fundamentally changed. The famous Venetian cartographer Battista Agnese, who worked among others for Emperor Charles V, created with his Nautical Atlas one of the most expressive cartographic representations of the Cinquecento. Particularly outstanding is the oval world map, which shows both the route of the first world circumnavigation by Ferdinand Magellan and the route through the Isthmus of Panama.

Nautical Atlas of Battista Agnese

Cartographic documents were valuable and expensive possessions, for their precious contents on the one hand, and because of the extraordinary art of their making on the other. Often exuberantly adorned, their exterior already testified to their luxury. This cartographic work of art, the Nautical Atlas of Battista Agnese, is an outstanding example of this acclaimand is associated with the wealthy Florentine family of Da Sommaia.

A Cartographer for the Emperor and Nobles

The Nautical Atlas of Battista Agnese is a luxurious atlas from the famous collection of Antonio Magliabechi, which, together with the holdings of the famous Biblioteca Palatina, forms the foundation of the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze. The Da Sommaia family’s coat-of-arms adorns a few pages of the precious manuscript and thus probably indicates the patron. Battista Agnese (ca. 1500–1564), the famous cartographer from Genoa with a workshop in Venice, worked for the highest social circles. As a result, he was employed by Emperor Charles V inter alia, who commissioned Agnese with an atlas for his son Philipp II. Agnese was famous for the outstanding quality of his work. He integrated the most recent discoveries into his geographic works.

Masterpiece of Cartography

The Nautical Atlas, which is stored today in the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze, is a masterpiece of cartography and a grandiose attestation to this work by Battista Agnese. The atlas is designed with impressive aesthetics and is naturally also extremely innovative cartographically. The famous atlas is characterized by gorgeous pictorial adornment, e.g. the astronomical depiction of the Earth in the middle of the universe. The most recent historical developments were also taken into account: the 10th map, an oval Mappa Mundi, shows inter alia the route of the world circumnavigation by Ferdinand Magellan and Juan Sebastián Elcano in the years 1519–22 and the important route through the Isthmus of Panama. Thus, the atlas eventually becomes an artistic testimony to the European expansion and the geographical and cartographic knowledge of the 16th century.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Weltkarte des Battista Agnese
Atlante Nautico di Battista Agnese
Size / Format
32 pages (10 maps) / 25.3 × 18.4 cm
Origin
Italy
Date
1536–1564
Language
Illustrations
10 maps and other illustrations
Content
Nautical Atlas
Patron
Da Sommaia family (?)
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Da Sommaia family
Antonio Magliabechi

Available facsimile editions:
Nautical Atlas of Battista Agnese – Istituto dell'Enciclopedia Italiana - Treccani – Banco Rari 32 – Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze (Florence, Italy)
Istituto dell'Enciclopedia Italiana - Treccani – Rome, 2008
Limited Edition: 750 copies
Detail Picture

Nautical Atlas of Battista Agnese

West Atlantic and Caribbean

Although the Spaniards ruthlessly sought gold throughout the New World, they and other Europeans came to realized that its true wealth lay in sugar, so-called white gold. In addition to other cash crops like tobacco and salt that could be produced in the Caribbean, sugar plantations fed Europe’s sweet tooth as well as the Atlantic slave trade. The Caribbean was thus thoroughly surveyed in the early 16th century as were its more than 700 islands, each a potential “gold mine”.

Atlante Nautico di Battista Agnese
Single Page

Nautical Atlas of Battista Agnese

World Map

This famous chart is a gorgeously designed world map that depicts the route taken by Magellan during the first successful circumnavigation of the globe in the years 1519–21. While this route is drawn in black, another is drawn with gold ink because it connects Spain to the goldmines of Peru. In the Pacific Ocean, Baja California is correctly presented as a peninsula unlike 60 years later when cartographers began to depict it as an island.

The map is rendered in an oval projection resembling a modern map, but this fine watercolor was intended for display in the homes of the wealthy and educated rather than see use as a practical tool for sailors at sea. The Anemoi, ancient Greek wind gods who were each ascribed a cardinal direction from which their respective winds came, frame the map with their curly blonde hair blowing in the wind.

Atlante Nautico di Battista Agnese
Facsimile Editions

#1 Atlante Nautico di Battista Agnese

Limited Edition: 750 copies
Binding: Atlas is bound in leather
Commentary: 2 volumes by Juan Gil, Angelo Cattaneo and Gino Benzoni
Language: Italian
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). All folios are cut according to the original. The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: €€ (1,000€ - 3,000€)
Edition available
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