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Tramezini's Influential Map of the Eastern Netherlands

Fine example of this rare Lafreri School map of the Southeastern part of the Netherlands and part of Western Germany, published in Venice in 1558.

Tramezini's map, engraved by Jacob Bossius, is based upon a nine-sheet wall map of Gelderland prepared by Jacob van Deventer, first published in 1543.  The only surviving example of the Van Deventer is a an example printed in 1556.

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 Nijmegen and nearly reaching Amsterdam at the top left and above it the course of the IJssel River to the sea.

The map is based upon the work of Jacob van Deventer (1500-1575).  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 The resulting maps were kept unpublished because of their military value.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.   

States of the Map

  1. Tramezini imprint, dated MDLVI.
  2. Tramezini imprint, dated MDLVIII.
  3. Additional imprint:  Gio. Batt.a de Rossi in Navona formis.


The original Van Deventer map survives in a single example.

The present map is the second state of 2 maps by Tramezini, the first dated 1556.  Both estates are extremely rare.

The Lafreri School

The Lafreri School is a commonly used name for a group of mapmakers, engravers, and publishers who worked in Rome and Venice from ca. 1544 to 1585. The makers, who were loosely connected via business partnerships and collaborations, created maps that were then bound into composite atlases; the maps would be chosen based on the buyer or compiler’s interests. As the maps were initially published as separate-sheets, the style and size of maps included under the umbrella of the “School” differed widely. These differences can also be seen in the surviving Lafreri atlases, which have maps bound in with varying formats including as folded maps, maps with wide, trimmed, or added margins, smaller maps, etc.

The most famous mapmakers of the School included Giacomo Gastaldi and Paolo Forlani, among others. The School’s namesake, Antonio Lafreri, was a map and printseller. His 1572 catalog of his stock, entitled Indice Delle Tavole Moderne Di Geografia Della Maggior Parte Del Mondo, has a similar title to many of the composite atlases and thus his name became associated with the entire output of the larger group.