The medieval world in a handy format: a Ptolemy atlas that is unusually small for maps, yet a magnificent work of the Italian Renaissance

Ptolemy Cosmography

Naples (Italy) — Around 1490

Ptolemy Cosmography

Ptolemy Cosmography

Naples (Italy) — Around 1490

  1. The world’s first maps and atlases were created with the help of the work of the astronomer, mathematician, and geographer Claudius Ptolemaeus (ca. 100–170 AD)

  2. This gorgeous manuscript arose ca. 1490 in Naples at the behest of Andrea Matteo III Acquaviva

  3. This manuscript's relatively small size and lavish adornment indicate that it was intended as a luxury object

Le petit Ptolomeo - Claudii Ptolomei Cosmographiae

Ptolemy Cosmography

Allegorical Table

Part of a double-page with an architectural frame, this miniature shows a female figure riding a crocodile, whip in hand, in front of a river landscape. This manuscript is more than just a work of geography – it is also filled with artistic depictions to excite the fascination of the beholder. The detail of this image is remarkable from the ferocious countenance and jagged teeth of the crocodile to the strings that attach the woman’s sandals to her feet.

Ptolemy Cosmography

Alternative Titles:
  • Le petit Ptolomeo - Claudii Ptolomei Cosmographiae
  • Cosmografía de Claudio Ptolomeo
  • Cosmographia des Claudius Ptolemäus
  • Ptolemy Atlas
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology
Short Description

The famous geographic work by Claudius Ptolemy, known by the Latin name Cosmographia, was a groundbreaking work of the 2nd century. Lost for 1,000 years, it was first rediscovered during the time of the Italian Renaissance and frequently adapted. One of the most beautiful specimens of the Cosmographia by Claudius Ptolemy is stored today in the French National Library in Paris. It arose ca. 1490 in Naples at the behest of Andrea Matteo III Acquaviva and, totally in the spirit of the Renaissance, enchants with its wonderful charts and overwhelming pictorial adornment. Something special about it is its unusually small format for a geographical work. The Parisian Codex of the Ptolemy Cosmography offers the wonderful opportunity to get to know both the groundbreaking scientific findings of Ptolemy and the great art of the Italian Renaissance!

Ptolemy Cosmography

The famous geographic work by Claudius Ptolemy, known by the Latin name Cosmographia, was a groundbreaking work of the 2nd century. Lost for 1,000 years, it was first rediscovered during the time of the Italian Renaissance and frequently adapted. One of the most beautiful specimens of the Cosmographia by Claudius Ptolemy is stored today in the French National Library in Paris. It arose ca. 1490 in Naples at the behest of Andrea Matteo III Acquaviva and, totally in the spirit of the Renaissance, enchants with its wonderful charts and overwhelming pictorial adornment. Something special about it is its unusually small format for a geographical work. The Parisian Codex of the Ptolemy Cosmography offers the wonderful opportunity to get to know both the groundbreaking scientific findings of Ptolemy and the great art of the Italian Renaissance!

A Grandiose Discovery

Claudius Ptolemy (ca. 100–170) was a Greek Renaissance man, who occupied himself as a mathematician, geographer, astronomer, philosopher, as well as in other disciplines. His scientific findings were to a large extent groundbreaking and forward-looking. As the composer of numerous standard works, the famous star catalog Almagest among them, he remained influential for centuries thereafter. The fascination with his findings still delighted scholars in the 14th century as his famous Cosmographia was rediscovered. The term cosmography denoted a description of the Earth and the universe, encompassing the scientific findings of geography, geology, astronomy, and astrology in connection with all aspects of the medieval world view. Lost and forgotten since the 2nd century, this Lost and forgotten since the 2nd century, this Ptolemaic geography was translated into Latin by Jacopo Angelo in Italy during the Renaissance, extensively received, and manifested itself frequently in the art of illumination.

A Ducal Commissioner

Andrea Matteo III Acquaviva, the famous Duke of Atri, was the one who commissioned one of the most fascinating of these splendid editions of the Cosmographia at the end of the 15th century. Andrea Matteo III Acquaviva originated from one of the most influential noble families in the Kingdom of Naples. As a bibliophile and lover of books he was simultaneously inquisitive of and attached to fine art. He wanted an atlas that was easy to use because of its unusually small format of 26 x 14 cm. Yet this edition of the Cosmographia is more of a luxury object or a collector’s piece than a scientific tool because of its lavish decoration.

The Great Art of the Renaissance in Naples

Bernardo Silvano d'Eboli, an Italian geographer and humanist resident of Naples, was contracted as the artist by Acquaviva. By trusting in the ability of the artist from his home of Naples, he was not following the contemporary taste, which was characterized above all by Florence. Bernardo Silvano adorned the Cosmographia with overwhelming miniatures of the highest quality. The book contains, among others, a gorgeous personification of geography and a depiction of Ptolemy. Grandiose decorative frames surround the colorful miniatures designed with great attention to detail. The heraldry of the Acquaviva family is often incorporated into the ornamental adornment. Splendid golden initials round out the outward appearance.

Cartographical Artwork

The artistically exceptional section of the book can nonetheless be found at the end: the marvelous maps. Always double-paged and framed, the cartographic section of the Cosmographia contains a world map and 26 more of individual continents, regions, and lands. Three allegorical depictions of the three then-known continents accompany the maps. The splendor of this small format atlas also enchanted Francois I, the French King (1494–1547), in whose possession the Cosmographia finally came and through whom it is still counted among the great treasures of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France today.

Codicology
Alternative Titles
Le petit Ptolomeo - Claudii Ptolomei Cosmographiae
Cosmografía de Claudio Ptolomeo
Cosmographia des Claudius Ptolemäus
Ptolemy Atlas
Size / Format
600 pages / 26.7 × 14.5 cm
Date
Around 1490
Language
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Le petit Ptolomeo - Claudii Ptolomei Cosmographiae

Ptolemy Cosmography

World Map

Presented in the unusually small format of a manuscript intended for personal use, this depiction of the known world represents the most advanced state of geographic knowledge in Europe just before the discovery of the Americas. Furthermore, its outstanding quality makes it a fine example of the artistic refinement of the Italian Renaissance.

As with the other 26 maps in the codex, this world map is presented within a grandiose decorative frame consisting of classical architecture, cherubs, and the Acquaviva family coat of arms. This image is a splendid mix of artistry and science: the finest pigments were used to create the most accurate depiction possible, including shimmering silver ink to mark the degrees for calculating coordinates.

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „Ptolemy Cosmography“

Le petit Ptolomeo - Claudii Ptolomei Cosmographiae Facsimile

Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ptolemy Cosmography – Ms. Lat. 10764 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
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Le petit Ptolomeo - Claudii Ptolomei Cosmographiae Facsimile

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Siloé, arte y bibliofilia – Burgos, 2005
Limited Edition
898 copies
Binding
Hand-crafted binding in delicate red velvet with clasps
Commentary
1 volume
Language: Spanish
More Information
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: €€€€ (7,000€ - 10,000€)
Edition available
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