The first known depiction of the Azores: a map of the Atlantic stretching from Scandinavia to northwestern Africa with islands both real and imagined

The 1439 Portolan Chart by Gabriel de Vallseca

1439

The 1439 Portolan Chart by Gabriel de Vallseca

The 1439 Portolan Chart by Gabriel de Vallseca

— 1439

  1. A fine specimen of the Majorcan school of cartography by Gabriel de Vallseca (before 1408 – after 1467)

  2. It is a combination of a portolan chart and a *mappa mundi* that incorporates the latest cartographic innovations

  3. Created in 1439, it has been coveted over the centuries and owned inter alia by Amerigo Vespucci (1454–1512)

The 1439 Portolan Chart by Gabriel de Vallseca

Alternative Titles:
  • La Carta de Gabriel Vallseca de 1439
  • Portolankarte von Gabriel de Vallseca von 1439
The 1439 Portolan Chart by Gabriel de Vallseca – Museu Maritim (Barcelona, Spain)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

Gabriel de Vallseca was Catalan cartographer of the Majorcan school of cartography who, like most of its affiliates, was a Spaniard of Jewish descent. His incredible portolan chart from 1439 is noteworthy for being the first to depict the Azores islands, as well as being a generally excellent and artful work of cartography. The work blended elements from various contemporary schools of cartography and depicts the Alantic Ocean from Scandinavia to the Rio de Oro on the northwestern coast of Africa. It is a highly coveted work with an extensive ownership history that includes a towering figure of the Age of Exploration: Amerigo Vespucci.

The 1439 Portolan Chart by Gabriel de Vallseca

Gabriel de Vallseca (before 1408 – after 1467) was Catalan cartographer associated with the famous Majorcan school of cartography, which consisted of map- and instrument makers of primarily Jewish descent. Vallseca was himself of Jewish descent and it is theorized by historians that he was a so-called crypto-Jew, someone who practices Judaism in secret while publically professing another faith, because his sons were later persecuted by the Spanish Inquisition. His most famous work was created in 1439 and is the first map to depict the recently discovered Azores islands. It is a portolan chart and partial mappa mundi that exhibits Vallseca’s incorporation of contemporary innovations by Italian and Portuguese cartographers in combination with typical elements from the Majorcan school such as wind roses, human and animal figures, plants, and various notes in Catalan.

The First Map of the Azores

The map depicts the Atlantic Ocean from Scandinavia to the Rio de Oro on the northwestern coast of Africa and includes both the real islands of the Azores, Canaries, and Madeira as well as the mythical islands of Thule, Brasil, and Mam. According to a note on the reverse side of the map, the map was purchased for the price of 80 gold ducats by the famous explorer, navigator, and cartographer Amerigo Vespucci (1454–1512). It is believed by historians that he acquired the map in Florence during the 1480’s and took it with him on his voyages to the New World between 1497 and 1504. The coveted work of cartography was later acquired by Cardinal Antonio Despuig y Dameto (1745–1813) sometime before 1785. The map was damaged during the winter of 1838/39 when an inkwell was accidentally tipped onto the map while the Count of Montenegro was showing it his visitors: Frédéric Chopin (1810-49) and George Sand (1804–76). Unfortunately, the spill blotted parts of a crucial note concerning the discovery of the Azores, obscuring the name of their discoverer and the date of their discovery. The map changed hands three more times during the 20th century, finally ending up in the Maritime Museum of Barcelona in 1960, where it remains on display to this day.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
La Carta de Gabriel Vallseca de 1439
Portolankarte von Gabriel de Vallseca von 1439
Date
1439

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „The 1439 Portolan Chart by Gabriel de Vallseca“

La Carta de Gabriel de Vallseca de 1439
The 1439 Portolan Chart by Gabriel de Vallseca – Museu Maritim (Barcelona, Spain)
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La Carta de Gabriel de Vallseca de 1439

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Lumen Artis – Barcelona, 2009
Limited Edition
950 copies
Commentary
1 volume by Ramón J. Pujades i Bataller
Languages: Catalan, Spanish abstract, English abstract
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: € (under 1,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!
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