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Rare first state of the so-called "Anonymous" "Lafreri School" map of Hungary, first published in Rome in 1559.

This beautifully engraved and detailed 16th Century map captures all of the traditional lands of Hungary, which included not only modern-day Hungary, but large sections of Romania, Slovakia, Croatia and Serbia. The map extends from the shores of the Adriatic all the way inland to Transylvania. The Danube River bisects the map horizontally, and on the far left is Vienna, followed by Pressburg (Bratislava), Buda & Pest, Belgrade, and in the far right is the 'Pons Trianus', or Trajan's Bridge, an architectural wonder built by the Romans in 105 AD spanning 1.3 km across the Danube, the remains of which would have been highly visible in the 16th Century (today only a few partial stone pillars remain). Other interesting features include Lake Balaton, the 'Hungarian' Adriatic coast above Zara (Zadar) and Trieste.

The present map is one of the earliest printed maps based upon the Lazarus Secretarius map of Hungary ( Tabula Hungarie ad quatuor latera), first printed in 1528. The original Lazarus map is known in a single copy, located in the Collection for Ancient and Rare Prints of the National Széchényi Library in Budapest. As noted by Professor Borbala Bak:

Lazarus (Eleazarus), the secretary of the archbishop of Esztergom, Tamás Bakócz, considered preparing the map together with the mathematician and cartographer Jacobus Ziegler in 1514, and while working on the map they were personally threatened by the revolt of Hungarian peasants and shepherds. Ziegler, Lazarus' associate, says that the locations known to him appear truthfully on the accomplished map, so he is delighted about the map's publication. The letter to Georgius Tanstetter also proves that the Tabula was the result of field work, i.e. the settlement network, representing the basis of 16th century maps, was most probably established by measurements . . . . Although the map manuscript(s) prepared during the collection of data are lost, their former existence can certainly be assumed, as the recipient of the letter, Georgius Tanstetter, is regarded as editor preparing the published version of the manuscript. Some researchers believe Johannes Cuspinianus, who covered the publishing costs of the Tabula and prepared the printing process, found the manuscripts of the map after 26 September 1526 in Buda.
The Lazarian Tabula is undoubtedly a substantive cartographical work that applies a high level of early 16th century cartographical expertise and was prepared in print on the basis of one or more manuscripts. Due to the increasing interest of Europe's public opinion in Hungarian and generally speaking continental events at the time, and also due to the strengthening of European trade relations and focused attention towards the locations of warfare, the Hungarian Monarchy did no longer settle for the map issued in Southern Germany. The expansion of increasingly educated social groups in those days created a demand for knowledge about the constantly growing known world, i.e. Europe and the European countries, which helped the survival of the Lazarus map and its numerous published reproductions.

The first Italian edition of the Lazarus map was a wood engraving by Giovanni Andrea Vavassore detto Guadagnino, first published in Venice in 1553 ( NOVA DESCRIPTIO / TOTIVS VNGA / RIAE). The Vavassore map also survives in a single known example in the Collection for Ancient and Rare Prints of the National Széchényi Library in Budapest.

In 1559, two different editions of the Lazarus Tabula Hungaria were made and have become the earliest examples of the map obtainable for collectors. One of the maps bears the name of Pirro Ligorio and is known in only a single state. The other has been deemed by the most recent scholarship as "Anonymous", although possibly issued by Antonio Lafreri. This so-called Anonymous edition is known in 5 states.

The edition of the Lazarus Tabula Hungaria made by Pirro Ligorio was engraved by Sebastiano di Re and published by Michele Tramezini in 1559. Dated 1559 and bearing the name of the Neapolitan maker "Pyrrho Ligorio Neap. auctore," the map was published subject to a 10 year Papal and Venetian State privilege granted to Tramezini. It is surmised that a 1558 edition of the map was published by some writers, however, no known example survives.

The so-called "Anonymous" edition of the map is also dated 1559 (the present map). Because of the manner in which the last Roman Numeral "I" is engraved in the title, a bit taller than the preceding 3 "I's", it has been theorized that the map was originally published in 1558, although again, no copy is known to survive. There has been great debate over the authorship of this second 1559 map, with scholars suggesting that the map may have been made by Ligorio or Lafreri. Professor Bak has most recently concluded that the authorship must be deemed "Anonymous," although Bak notes that it is plausible that Lafreri "may have, as was the custom of the time, ordered the manufacturing and maybe even reproduction of the 1559 Anonymous map, and that he himself, being the owner of the printing plate, may have taken care of its sale and the compilation of the maps into a volume."

Professor Bak identifies 5 states of the 1559 Anonymous map. The states can be identified as follows:

  • State 1: Two neat lines at the bottom of the map. The City of Pecs is unnamed. Guidelines remaining above and below the printed title and in a number of text names near the Danube below the Traianus Bridge and in Croatia and Dalmatia.
  • State 2: One neat line at the bottom of the map. The plate is damaged in Northwestern Upper Hungary, causing data for this region to be "practically printed twice."
  • State 3: The guidelines in the title are now barely visible and there is evidence of repair to the damaged part of the plate in Northwestern Upper Hungary.
  • State 4: The name "Claudij Duchetti Formis" is added to the map (likely issued after Lafreri's death in 1577).
  • State 5: The name "Ioannes Orlandi formis" is added to the map, along with Duchetti's name and the date 1602 is also added.

Antoine Lafréry, better known as Antonio Lafreri (1512-77) was born in Besançon. His earliest work in Rome dates to about 1544. From his workshop on the via del Parione, he produced many important publications. In 1553, he founded a company with his mentor, Antonio Salamanca, which would operate until 1562. Thereafter, from 1562 to Lafreri's death in 1577, he operated under his own name. As noted by Ashley Baynton Williams:

The reason that Lafreri's name is now used as an umbrella term for the school is because he issued a catalogue of his stock in 1572, entitled 'Indice Delle Tavole Moderne Di Geografia Della Maggior Parte Del Mondo ...'. This catalogue is very similar, both in title and contents, to bound collections of maps with an engraved title Tavole Moderne Di Geografia De La Maggior Parte Del Mondo Di Diversi Autori. Accordingly bound collections with the engraved title were attributed to Lafreri, and thence his name became associated with the group as a whole. Some writers have attributed the title to Duchetti, but there seems no good reason to challenge Lafreri's role.
Having said that much of his cartographic output was derivative, it should be said that Lafreri was very active as a publisher and seller of broadsheet 'news-maps', maps illustrating important contemporary events. Of these, by far the most popular was the siege of Malta by the Turks in 1565, and Lafreri produced maps of the island, the fortifications of Valetta, and depicting various stages in the siege, including the Turkish retreat. Another popular subject was the battle of Lepanto, on October 7th 1571, in which the Turkish fleet was routed by a combined Venetian, Spanish and allied fleet. Just over a month after the battle, on November 14th, Lafreri published a detailed plan of the battle - a remarkably short space of time considering the intricacies of engraving such an image.

The so-called Lafreri School Atlases (composite atlases created by Lafreri or his contemporaries) are now of the utmost rarity. Lafreri's name became attached to these works because he was the first to produce title pages for these composite atlases. Pre-dating Abraham Ortelius, these Lafreri Atlases and their contents, represent the birth of the modern Atlas, consisting of compilations of modern maps of different parts of the world. Prior to the Laferi School period, maps were typically issued as separately published sheets, in very limited quantities. Most of these maps perished long ago and, as with the Lazarus map of Hungary, and are rarely known in more than a few examples, if they survive at all. These separately published maps from the early 16th Century were typically the sources for the Lafreri School mapmakers and many of the most important maps of the first half of the 16th Century. They are available to collectors and scholars only through the editions of the maps made in Rome and Venice, primarily by makers such as Giacomo Gastaldi, Claudius Duchetti, Giovanni Orlandi, Michele Tramezzini, Antonio Salamaca, Paolo Forlani, George Lily, Pirro Ligorio, Jacobus Boss, Vincenzo Luchini, Bolognini Zaltieri, the Bertelli Family, Giovanni Camoccio, Niccolo Nelli, Domenico Zenoi, and Petrus de Nobilibus, amongst others.

The present first state of the "Anonymous" Lafreri School map of Hungary is of the utmost rarity, this being one of only a few surviving examples.

Condition Description
Narrow margins, as issued.
Borbala Bak, Roman Editions of the Lazarus Map; Imago Mundi III (Tooley - Italian Atlases) #307.
Antonio Lafreri Biography

Antonio Lafreri (1512-1577) (also known as Antoine Lafréry and Antoine du Pérac Lafréry) was a French mapmaker, engraver, and publisher who worked in Italy. Lafreri was born in Franche-Comté and moved to Rome around 1540. Lafreri sold sheet maps but he also bound maps into books for his clients based on their interests and needs. These are the famous Lafreri atlases, important pre-cursors to the modern atlas. He also published well known works such as the Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae (ca. 1575), a collection of engraved views and images of Rome. Lafreri was well-connected to the cartographic networks of the time, collaborating with Giacomo Gastaldi, Battista Agnese, Antonio Salamanca, Donato Bertelli, Paolo Forlani, and others.