A fine wide margined example of the northern sheet of the first edition of Gastaldi's 2-sheet map covering Russia, Sweden, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, published in Venice in 1562.
The present offering is the northern sheet only (of 2) of Gastaldi's Desegno de Geographia Moderna Del Regno di Polonia, e parte Del Ducado di Moscovia. It embraces all of eastern Sweden (north of Gotland), the entire Gulf of Bothnia, the vast majority of Finland, and much of Northwestern Russia, as well as Estonia, Latvia, and the northern parts of Lithuania. The map's southern sheet extended to include Poland and much of the Ukraine down to and including Crimea, please see: /gallery/detail/32237
The present northern sheet is nevertheless an extremely important map for Russia, Finland, Sweden and the Baltic Countries. It is the earliest Lafreri School map to focus on the region and among the earliest obtainable maps to depict modern cartographic details, rather than simply relying upon Ptolemy either entirely or as the major basis for the geographical content.
The geography of this map was largely derived from Gerhard Mercator's 1554 map of Europe, but also takes account of some other advanced sources. The detail with respect to the shorelines of Scandinavia and the lake and river systems of Russia is impressive.
The mapping of Russia extends to include Moscow, labelled here as 'Moscovia', in the lower right. Moscow was by this time the capital of an expanding Russian state, having risen to prominence following Ivan III's victory over the Tatars in 1480. The map also features Novgorod, Russia's most historically significant city and the former capital of the Novgorod Republic (which was annexed by the Duchy of Moscow in 1478). The coverage includes the Upper Volga Basin, and depicts many lakes such a Lake Ladoga (located to the east of modern St. Petersburg), while the White Sea appears in the upper right.
With respect to Scandinavia, the mapping of the Swedish Baltic coastline is very advanced, being far more accurate than that depicted on Olaus Magnus's Carta Marina (1539) and Michele Tramezzini's map of North Europe (1558). Stockholm is labeled as 'Stoch Holm', while the great university town of Uppsala is labeled as 'Upsael'. In Finland, the traditional capital Turku is labeled as 'Abog' (a variant of its Swedish name, Abo). The Gulf of Finland takes on an archaic form, angling sharply towards the northeast, with its head dominated by the old fortified port of Vyborg (in Finnish, Viipuri). Now part of Russia, this town would long be fought over between Sweden and Russia.
In the Baltic countries, the modern Estonian capital, Tallinn, appears under its old name, 'Revel', while to the south is Riga, the capital of Latvia (labeled here as 'Livinia'). The map extends further south to include northern Lithuania, notably the port of 'Memel' (now Klaipeda).
Gastaldi's fine map proved to be influential, and was reissued by Paolo Forlani in 1568, with its own title on the northern sheet.
Giacomo Gastaldi (c. 1500-66) was the first of a number of Italian mapmakers, mostly active in Rome and Venice, who were responsible for the production of the first widely distributed modern maps of all parts of the World (although primarily focusing on Italy). The maps were issued separately, but were also assembled both by booksellers and early owners into bound composite atlases. These maps have come to be known as Lafreri maps, because in the 1570s, the bookseller and publisher Antonio Lafreri of Rome produced such composite atlases, in which he included a title page with his name as the publisher. While there are a number of surviving examples of these Lafreri Atlases in institutions, these compilations are very rare and no two examples have identical contents.
Gastaldi's map is extremely rare on the market. AMPR references only a single example of the 1562 Gastaldi 2-sheet map at auction or in a dealer catalog in the past 30 years (Christies Paris, June 9, 2006), and no examples of the southern or northern sheet (although several examples of the separate sheets from the 1568 Forlani edition are noted as having appeared on the market in the past 30 years).
The present example is in remarkably good condition for such a rare survival.
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.