Nautical Maps of Pietro Vesconte

Nautical Maps of Pietro Vesconte Facsimile Edition

Italy — 1318

A magnificent work of 14th century cartography: increasingly accurate illustrations of the regions from the Eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea to the British Isles

  1. Pietro Vesconte (fl. 1310–1330) was one of the most influential mapmakers of the early 14th century

  2. He produced increasingly accurate depictions of northern European coastlines, England in particular

  3. His impact continued to be felt among Italian and Catalan cartographers well into the 15th century

Nautical Maps of Pietro Vesconte

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Description
Nautical Maps of Pietro Vesconte

The Genoese-born cartographer and geographer Pietro Vesconte was one of the most influential mapmakers of the early 14th century whose impact continued to be felt among Italian and Catalan cartographers well into the 15th century. Remembered as a pioneer of portolan charts, Vesconte spent most of his professional career in Venice where he produced increasingly accurate depictions of northern European coastlines, England in particular. Created in 1318, the manuscript stored under the shelf mark Cod. 594 in the Austrian National Library consists of 10 sheets including a calendar and 9 maps of regions ranging from the Eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea to the British Isles. It is counted among at least four dated and signed multi-sheet atlases whose sheets can be arranged into a single nautical chart that are attributed to the innovative and influential Pietro Vesconte.

Nautical Maps of Pietro Vesconte

The science of mapmaking was rapidly evolving during the High and Late Middle Ages, when the first accurate maps that could be relied upon for navigation began to emerge. Pietro Vesconte (fl. 1310–1330) created the earliest signed and dated nautical charts that have survived to the present. The oldest, a portolan chart of the Eastern Mediterranean, dates to 1311 and this atlas from 1318 consists of teen sheets measuring ca. 20 x 20 cm that can be arranged to form a single large map: 1. Calendar, 2. Black Sea, 3. Eastern Mediterranean, 4. South-Central Mediterranean, 6. North-Central Mediterranean 7. Western Mediterranean, 8. Spain and French Atlantic coast, 9. British Isles, 10. Adriatic Sea. Presented in the form of a circle, the calendar is surrounded by the symbols of the Four Evangelists in the corners of a golden frame. The maps are similarly decorated in the corners with dragons and vegetal designs. This historic specimen of cartography is stored today in the Austrian National Library under the shelf mark Cod. 594.

A Pioneering Mapmaker

Although there are no documents concerning his childhood, Pietro Vesconte identified himself as Genoese, but spent most of his career in the rival maritime power of Venice, where he moved in 1313. He fled from a civil war between the Guelphs and Ghibellines in Genoa and once in Venice, Vesconte began to mark his works with a dragon, the enemy of Saint George, who was the symbol of Genoa. He worked in collaboration with the Venetian statesman and geographer Marino Sanuto the Elder (ca. 1270–1343) and created numerous maps of the Holy Land for Sanuto’s Liber secretorum fidelium crucis or “The Book of the Secrets of the Faithful of the Cross”, a work that intended to inspire a revival of the Crusades. Vesconte’s maps are always south oriented and are usually adorned with both sacred and profane allegorical imagery. As the first professional mapmaker to sign and date his works on a regular basis, his influence can be clearly seen in the work of subsequent generations of Italian and Catalan mapmakers.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Nautische Karten von Pietro Vesconte
Carte Nautiche di Pietro Vesconte
Origin
Italy
Date
1318
Style
Language
Artist / School

Available facsimile editions:
Facsimile Editions

#1 Carte Nautiche di Pietro Vesconte

ET&B – Todi, 1975

Publisher: ET&B – Todi, 1975
Binding: The facsimile comes in a wooden box.
Commentary: 1 volume
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). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: € (under 1,000€)
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