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A Unique Survival

Only known example of this rare separately published map of of the Eastern Mediterranean, signed by Stefano Scolari.

The map covers the area from Southern Italy in the Eastern Mediterranean to Asia Minor, with Greece, the Holy Land, the coast of North Africa and Cyprus elegantly depicted. Its historic origins can be traced back to approximately 1560, credited to the legendary Italian cartographer, Giacomo Gastaldi, but it bears the imprint of Stefano Scolari, who re-published it around 1650.

This rare map of the Eastern Mediterranean is the only known example of its kind, a testament to its rarity and importance in the realm of historical cartography.

The map unfolds a panorama of interconnected territories and cultures. The Eastern Mediterranean is dotted with minuscule islands, while the continental expanse of Asia Minor exhibits a dense tapestry of topographical features. The Holy Land stands out with religious and historic significance, drawing the eye with detailed renderings of its sacred sites. The majestic form of Greece lies to the west, a cradle of ancient civilization elegantly drafted with minute detail. The island of Cyprus, with the Lion of San Marco prominently displayed, hints at its past political status before it fell into Ottoman hands in 1572.

Adding to its uniqueness, this map is part of a much larger assemblage, originally constituting one of the four sheets from a 16th-century wall map of Europe. An incomplete example of this grand map survives today at the Civic Library of Bergamo in Italy, with three of the four original sheets. This finding was made by Stefano Bifolco during his dedicated research for his book.

One of the intriguing elements of this map is the 16 point compass rose, oriented with the North at the top. This compass rose, a navigational feature ubiquitous in nautical charts of the period, provides a timeless touch to the map and sets the direction for its viewers, guiding their gaze across the geographical expanse.

Attributed by Almagia to the work of Giacomo Gastaldi, this map is not just a representation of land and sea. It stands as a testament to the painstaking skill and innovative methodologies of early cartographers, and the rarity of these separately issued maps of the period.

Almagià (1948): p. 85, n. 5 (south-east sheet); Rare Cartography (1986): n. 84; Tolias (2011): p. 106, II.33, n. 1612; Zacharakis (1992): n. 2759. All referred only to the south-east sheet.

Bifolco-Ronca, Cartography and Italian Topography of the sixteenth century, Catalog raisonné of the printed works (2018), pp. 662-663, tav. 218, III / III.
Stefano Scolari Biography

Stefano Scolari was active between 1644 and 1687. He was a designer, engraver and editor from Brescia, although he practiced his trade in Venice. His shop, in S. Zulian under the sign of the Three Virtues, was one of the best known in seventeenth-century Venice. He engraved, printed, and traded in prints, particularly, maps. He specialized in the re-issue of important maps including Gastaldi's map of Lombardy and the 12-sheet map of Italy by Greuter.