Sign In

- Or use -
Forgot Password Create Account
This item has been sold, but you can enter your email address to be notified if another example becomes available.

Paolo Forlani's Influential Map of the Eastern Netherlands

Fine example of this rare Lafreri School map the Southeastern part of the Netherlands and part of Western Germany, published in Venice in 1563.

The map is centered on the area where the Rhine River and the  Meuse (Maas) River join and flow westward toward the sea, centered on Nimegen and nearly reaching Amsterdam at the top left and above it the course of the Ijessel River to the sea.

The map is based upon the work of Jacob van Deventer (1500-1575) and was also copied by Michell Tramezini.  Little biographical information exists about van Deventer. Despite his name, he was probably not born in Deventer, but in Kampen in the north of the Netherlands.  He first appears in the sources on April 24, 1520, when he enrolled at the University of Leuven under the name of "Jacobus de Daventria". On this basis, his date of birth is conjectured to have been around 1500–1505. In Leuven, Jacob's interests were first directed towards medicine and philosophy, but he then began to take an interest in geography and cartography. he later moved to Mechelen, from where in 1572 he relocated to Cologne to flee the upheavals of the Dutch Revolt against the Spanish rule. During his career as a cartographer in the Spanish royal service, he earned himself the title of "Imperial Cartographer" from emperor Charles V in 1540 (later changed to that of "Royal Cartographer", after the emperor's abdication in 1555).

Van Deventer was among the first to make systematic use of triangulation, a technique whose theory was described by his contemporary Gemma Frisius in his 1533 book, Libellus de locorum describendorum ratione. In 1536 he produced a printed map of Brabant, the first such map to be published in the Netherlands. He then launched into an impressive career as a mapmaker. In 1559, he was tasked by King Philip II with the project that was to become his life's work: the systematic cartography of all cities of the Netherlands.The resulting maps were kept unpublished because of their military value. As a result, they later became forgotten and were rediscovered only in the late 19th century.

Jacobus van Deventer worked on this monumental project until his death in 1575. In the course of fifteen years, he created between 250 and 260 city maps, covering an area from Friesland to what is today the north of France, and reaching into Luxembourg and the west of Germany.   

Lafreri School of Mapmakers

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 conducted business under his own name.

While Lafreri did create maps, he was primarily a dealer and publisher, rather than an artisan in his own right. He carried a vast stock of maps and prints made by other printers from both Rome and Venice. He became known for producing IATO (Italian-Assembled-To-Order) atlases, each unique composite atlases featuring a selection of fine Italian maps, made to the tastes of individual clients. Pre-dating Abraham Ortelius, these 'Lafreri Atlases' and their contents, represent the birth of the modern atlas. Owing to the popular acclaim of these atlases, while the term was never used during this period, the Italian maps from this era are today often said to be of the 'Lafreri School'.

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.

Map States

The present example of the map is state 3 of 5 states:

  • State 1: Proof State--no date
  • State 2: Imprint of Paolo Forlani only with Date of M.D. LXIII
  • State 3: Camocio Imprint added in Cartouche
  • State 4: Camocio name removed and dated MDLXXXV
  • State 5:  Bertelli imprint (no copy located by Bifolco)


All states are rare on the market.  The third state is the most common, with two examples appearing at auctions reported in RBH in the past 30 years.

Imago Mundi III (Tooley - Italian Atlases) #233.
Paolo Forlani Biography

Paolo Forlani (fl. ca. 1560-1571) was a prolific map engraver based in Venice. All that is known of his life are his surviving maps and prints, of which there are almost 100 (185 with later states included in the total). He also produced a globe and two town books.  It is likely he came from Verona and that he died in Venice in the mid-1570s, possibly of the plague.