Fine example of this 16th Century portrait of the Explorer Amerigo Vespucci, published in Paris.
The image shows Vespucci studying a portolan sea chart, emblematic of his role as the leader of early expeditions of discovery to the New World.
Amerigo Vespucci (1454-1512) was born into a wealthy Florentine family. He entered Spanish service and took part in several early expeditions to the New World and was most notably the first European to reach Patagonia. His highly entertaining book, Mundus Novus (1504) was an instant bestseller, and included ridiculous claims such as encounters with dog-headed cannibals. In 1507, Martin Waldseemuller made the first world map to definitively identify the New World as being its own distinct continental landmass. He named the new continent 'America' on his map, after Vespucci, for reasons that are still a matter of debate.
In 1508, Vespucci was appointed Pilot Major of Spain, a high office which oversaw all of Spain's maritime activities.
The portrait is from Andre Thevet's
Les Vrais Pourtraits et Vies des Hommes (Paris, 1575). Thevet was a noted cartographer and chronicler in his own right.