Fine example of Metellus' rare map of the Pacific, from Jose de Acosta's Geographische Und Historische Beschreibung Der Uberauss Grosser Landshafft America.
Metellus' map of the Pacific is among the rarest of the 16th Century maps of the Pacific Ocean. Unlike the other maps in De Acosta's work, this map is an entirely new production and is not derived from Cornelis Wytfliet's atlas of 1597. Instead, Metellus draws Abraham Ortelius' 1589 map of the same title, making it the second printed map devoted to the Pacific Ocean.
Ortelius based his map upon Mercator's world map of 1569, with details from 25 Portugese manuscript maps of Bartolomeo de Lasso which Plancius obtained and later used for his own world map. The map shows the Moluccas and the Philippines, already the site of considerable Dutch activity and a misprojected Japan. An odd Isla de Plata appears above Japan. Guam (Isla de Ladrones) is shown. Metellus follows Ortelius in redrawing the mapping of New Guinea in a very different fashion than on Ortelius' World map of 1588, suggesting he may have drawn additional information from an unrecorded voyage. Among other notable features, it is detached from Terra Australis. The Solomons or Melanesia are located, as are some of the islands of Micronesia.
The map reflects a much smaller body of water than the true size of the Pacific. The treatment of America and most notably the Northwest Coast is reminiscent of Hondius' America.
Johannes Matalius Metellus, also known as Jean Matal or Johannes Metellus Sequanas, was born in Poligny, Burgundy, France in ca. 1517. A humanist scholar, he was a polymath devoted to cartography, geography, law, paleography, and antiquarianism. Late in life he published a series of atlases; all his maps and atlases are rare and highly sought-after.
Matal was educated at Dole, Freiburg, and several Italian institutions. At Bologna, he met Antonio Agustín, a Spanish legal scholar, who recruited Matal to be his secretary. Together, the men researched ecclesiastical law, with an especial emphasis on Roman legal manuscripts, with trips to Venice, Florence, and elsewhere in Italy to study codices. In 1555, the two traveled to England to meet with Queen Mary on a mission for the Church.
After leaving his employment with Agustín, Matal traveled in the Low Countries and eventually settled in Cologne. There, he mixed with other savants, including especially Georg Cassander and Pedro Ximénez. It was in Cologne that Matal began his serious interest in mapmaking. He contributed to Braun and Hogenberg’s Civitae Orbis Terrarum; Georg Braun described him in glowing terms, “vir omni scientiarum genere praestans"—"a man outstanding in every form of knowledge."
Late in life, Matal began preparing a set of maps of the entire world. In 1594, he published an atlas of France, Austria, and Switzerland (39 maps), in 1595 an atlas of Spain (10 maps), and, posthumously, an atlas of Italy (37 maps), and one of Germany and the Netherlands (55 maps). Many of these maps were combined and augmented into atlases of Europe, Asia, Africa, the Americas, and the world’s islands. In 1602, a compendium work showcased all of these previous works called Speculum Orbis Terrae; this atlas was well received by contemporaries like Walter Raleigh and is very rare today. Many of these maps and atlases were released after his death in 1598, they were finished by his friend and fellow mapmaker Conrad Loew (Matthias Quad).