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Rare Lafreri-school plan of the Borj El Kebir, also known as Borj El Ghazi Mustapha, in present-day Tunisia.

The map is oriented with northeast at the top, and illustrates a substantial fortress, which, at the time, was an important military feature on the southern coastline of the Mediterranean.

Because of its geopolitical importance, El Kebir was one of the better-mapped of all foreign cities covered by 16th-century Italian mapmakers.

Bifolco and Ronca date the map to circa 1567 and attribute it to Paolo Forlani. The present example has text on verso, suggesting that it was from one of two editions of Ballino's De disegni delle più illustri citta, et fortezze del mondo, both of which were published in Venice in 1569 by Zaltieri.

Bifolco & Ronca (2018) comment:

Anonymous map without editorial data attributed to Paolo Forlani. It represents the fort of Houmt Souk, and derives from the anonymous sheet that we attribute to Lafreri. The work is included in three of the five known copies of the collection Il primo libro delle citta et fortezze del mondo, which contains plates by Forlani and Domenico Zenoi. The map, which is also found in large-format composite collections, is reprinted unaltered by Bolognino Zaltieri, and included in two different editions of Giulio Ballino's work De disegni delle più illustri citta, et fortezze del mondo, both published in Venice 1569. No plate variants are known, but Zaltieri's editions have a descriptive text on the reverse.

Condition Description
Text on verso: "Zerbe... 48."
Bifolco & Ronca (2018) 136. Ganado (1982): n. 92. b) Ganado (1993): p. 24; Szalai-Matković (2012): pp. 4-36; cfr. Valerio (1998): p. 40, n. 9 e p. 47, n. 48.
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.