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1598 Johannes Matalius Metellus
$ 4,800.00

Very rare map of California and the Southwestern US and parts of Mexico, form Jose de Acosta's De Natura Nova Orbis. The map is based upon Wytfliet's Atlas of the prior year, which was the earliest map devoted to Baja California and the Southwest. Metellus, whose real name was Jean Matal, was an accomplished French Cartographer, who died in 1597. The maps were most likely finished by Conrad Loew, a pseudonym for Matthias Quad. Some question has been raised as to whether Metellus' work predates the Wytfliet, given that Metellus died in 1597 and lived in Louvain prior to his death in Cologne. Burden surmises that Wytfliet's work was published first. The maps are largely similar, other than the ommission of a few place names in the Metellus. The Metellus is by far the rarer of two, this being the first example we have ever seen. A nice dark example, with text on German Text on the verso, as called for in Burden 120. An essential map for California collectors.

Johannes Matalius Metellus Biography

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).