First State of Lafreri's Rare Map of Austria & Hungary
Rare of the Austria and Hungary, published in Rome by Antonio Lafreri.
The present map is among the earliest obtainable modern maps of Austria and Hungary. Based upon an early map engraved by Domenico Zenoi for Donato Bertielli in 1553, the map draws on the intense effort among mid-16th Century Italian mapmakers to bring together the best available modern cartographic information from around the world. Pre-dating the work of Ortelius by several decades, this group of Italian mapmakers, which would come to be known as the Lafreri School, represented the first comprehensive effort to publish modern maps of all parts of the world, rather than simply focusing in on local regions and local markets.
The map follows the course of the Danube River from Linz to Belgrade, with the cities of Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest prominently noted. The map reaches south to the Drava River and north to Cassovia (Košice) in modern day Slovakia.
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.
The first state of the map is very rare. Bifolco notes on the the following surviving examples: Birmingham Public Library; Hungarian National Széchényi Library; Newberry Library; Biblioteca Nazionale (Florence); National Library of Israel; and British Library