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Description

First state of this rare engraving featuring a map of America and representations of important inventions of the late 16th Century, from an original drawing by Johannes Stradanus, a Flemish artist living in Italy and engraved by Phillippe Galle for the expanded 1600 edition of Galle's Americae Retectio.

This plate is the title page to the second series of old master engravings depicting Renaissance discoveries and inventions, based on Stradanus' original drawings. The images depict two hemispheres, including an outline map of America, naming Nova Francia and Florida in North America. The map is encircled by an inscription referencing Columbus and Vespucci.

This series of 24 engravings celebrated the new discoveries-both technological and geographical-that made the Renaissance world modern and distinguished it from that of the ancients. Stradanus devoted no less than 9 images to the 'discovery' of the New World and his encyclopedic frontispiece contained most of the other inventions depicted in the remaining plates, including gunpowder, the printing press, the compass, the clock, stirrups, (al)chemical distillation, the cultivation of silkworms and the treatment of syphilis with the tropical wood guaiacum.

The Nova Reperta was part of a long tradition of cataloging inventions. Perhaps the fullest list is found in Polydore Vergil's De Inventoribus Rerum (1499), while the shortest and most influential is the often-quoted aphorism in Francis Bacon's Novum Organum (1620), observing that 'the arts of printing, gunpowder and the compass...have changed the whole face and condition of things throughout the world, in literature, in warfare and in navigation' (Book I, Aphorism 129).

There are two states of this plate, based upon Burden.

  • Bottom right: attribution to Phls. Galle (1600)
  • Bottom right: attribution is revised to Ioan. Galle. (1630 ca)

The plates from this work are very rare. Only one entry for this plate has appeared in a dealer catalogue in the past 25 years (Suarez, Winter 1997, Item 25--$1,200). The last complete copy of the book to appear at auction sold for $28,000 in 1999. Christie's New York, June 9, 1999, lot 96.