Fine wide margined example of the first edition of Gastaldi's 2-sheet map of the Kingdom of Poland published in Venice in 1562.
Gastaldi's 2 sheet map of the Kingdom of Poland is one of his most important maps to focus on regions outside of Italy and is generally recognized as the earliest Lafreri map to focus on Poland. The map shows the Baltic Sea and numerous northern lakes in the upper section, and the lower section prominently featuring Poland, the city of Cracow and the Wistula River basin.
Because the map is generally not joined, it is rarely appreciated as a two sheet map. The geography of this map was largely derived from Gerhard Mercator's 1554 map of Europe. The map was also likely influenced by the maps of Bernard Wapowski (1526) and Waclaw Grodecki published in 1548, which is now lost, but was copied by Ortelius in 1570. Paolo Forlani issued a subsequent edition of Gastadi's 2-sheet map of the Kingdom of Poland in 1568.
Giacomo Gastaldi (1500-1566) is considered the foremost Italian cartographer of the sixteenth century, alongside Paolo Forlani. His skills of compilation are comparable to those of Mercator and Ortelius, yet much less is known of his life than of his two contemporaries. Gastaldi was born in Villafranca, Piedmont, but had established himself in Venice by 1539. He originally worked as an engineer, but turned to mapmaking from the 1540s onward.
It was in Venice where he made his reputation as an engraver, geographer, and cosmographer; for example, he was asked to fresco maps of Asia and Africa in the Palace of the Doge, or the Council of Ten, Venice’s governmental body. He also frequently consulted on projects for the Savi sopra la Laguna, drawing maps for this body which oversaw the regulation of fresh and salt water around Venice.
His contemporaries also recognized his skill, as he was named cosmographer to the Republic of Venice, was a member of the Accademia Veneziana, and was a major source for other geographers and mapmakers including Camocio, Bertelli, Cock, Luchini, and Ortelius. He even had his own distinct style of copper engraving that made him a pioneer in his day and makes his works iconic today.
Gastaldi enjoyed an especially productive relationship with Giovanni Battista Ramusio, Secretary of the Venetian Senate, who used Gastaldi's maps for his famous travel account collection, Navigationi et Viaggi. Gastaldi also tutored Ramusio's son in cosmography.