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The First Modern Map of Arabia.

Fine dark impression of Giacomo Gastaldi's modern map of the Arabian Peninsula, the first modern map of the Arabian Peninsula.

Gastaldi's map is generally considered to be the first modern map to be focused specifically on Arabia. While maps based upon the work of 2nd Century Alexandrian scholar Claudius Ptolemy were printed as early as 1477, Gastaldi's map is the first to integrate modern cartographic sources into a regional map focused on the Arabian Peninsula. Gerald Tibbetts described the map as the first truly modern map of the Peninsula. Not only was Gastaldi able to present Arabia's shape and orientation more accurately than Ptolemy, but he also confidently plotted certain coastal towns-Jizan was one-for the first time, though much of the inland detail remained arbitrarily drawn. Gastaldi includes a fictional lake, Stag lago, in the middle of the Rub' al-Khali, a feature whose genesis lay in an area of water marked by Ptolemy, but expanded by Gastaldi and propagated by other wishful-thinking cartographers after him until its eventual deletion during the 17th century.

Giacomo Gastaldi was one of the most important Italian mapmakers of the early 16th Century. His set of maps for the 1548 edition of the 'Geographia' are among the earliest examples of his work, in a long and distinguished career. This edition was the first pocket-sized edition. Despite being prepared on a small format, the maps are clearly and attractively engraved. Gastaldi was the first to add regional maps of the American continent, with important maps of the eastern seaboard, a map of what is now the southern United States, of South America, and separate maps of Cuba and Hispaniola. Gastaldi published only a single edition, but his maps were copied by Girolomo Ruscelli for over 50 years.

The present example was bound without a fold and is in fine condition.

Tibbetts, G.R. #23; Karrow, R.W. (16 c.) 30/49.
Giacomo Gastaldi Biography

Giacomo Gastaldi (1500-1566) is considered the foremost Italian cartographer of the sixteenth century, alongside Paolo Forlani. His skills of compilation are comparable to those of Mercator and Ortelius, yet much less is known of his life than of his two contemporaries. Gastaldi was born in Villafranca, Piedmont, but had established himself in Venice by 1539. He originally worked as an engineer, but turned to mapmaking from the 1540s onward.

It was in Venice where he made his reputation as an engraver, geographer, and cosmographer; for example, he was asked to fresco maps of Asia and Africa in the Palace of the Doge, or the Council of Ten, Venice’s governmental body. He also frequently consulted on projects for the Savi sopra la Laguna, drawing maps for this body which oversaw the regulation of fresh and salt water around Venice. 

His contemporaries also recognized his skill, as he was named cosmographer to the Republic of Venice, was a member of the Accademia Veneziana, and was a major source for other geographers and mapmakers including Camocio, Bertelli, Cock, Luchini, and Ortelius. He even had his own distinct style of copper engraving that made him a pioneer in his day and makes his works iconic today.

Gastaldi enjoyed an especially productive relationship with Giovanni Battista Ramusio, Secretary of the Venetian Senate, who used Gastaldi's maps for his famous travel account collection, Navigationi et Viaggi. Gastaldi also tutored Ramusio's son in cosmography.