Very Rare Map of Northeastern Italy Considered the Richest and Most Detailed Map of the Region from the 16th Century - Almagià and Lago
Rare and highly sought-after map of Friuli (the eastern Austrian-Italian border) showing stunning cartographic detail. This map is one of the foremost examples of the Italian Lafreri School cartographic style.
This map was designed by Pirro Ligorio--Papal Architect under two popes--and edited by Michele Tramezzino.
The map is a fundamental source for toponymic research due to the extremely large number of placenames on display, many of which appear in the original regional dialect.
The map shows the region of Friuli from its foothills in the Alps to its Adriatic coastline. The Marano Lagoon is visible and detail extends into the present-day country of Croatia. The decorative elements of the map, including the cartouche, ships, pictorial topography, and emblem of St. Mark, are instantly recognizable heralds of the Lafreri School.
According to Bifolco and Ronca, the map appears to be derived from Cortana's pre-1554 painted map of the region around Venice (which itself is thought to be based on an even earlier painted work, which is now unknown), albeit with significantly more detail. The map appears in Antonio Lafreri's catalog.
The cultural area of Friuli is located in northeastern Italy and is bounded by Veneto, Croatia, and Austria. The region was exchanged between various states throughout its history, and was part of the Hapsburg Empire at the time of the creation of this map. The region retains its local dialect of Friulian (also known as Eastern Ladin) until this day, which is a fascinating linguistical mix of German, Italian, Venetian, and Slovene, with Ladin roots.
Ligorio, born of the Neapolitan noble class in the early 1510s, started his career in Rome as a painter and decorate of the facades of homes and palaces. His work emulated Raphael and he rapidly grew to dominate this field in the city, although little of his early work remains. After gaining several high-profile commissions, he decided to become a scholar of antiquities and wrote some important texts in the field.
Around the period when this map would have been designed, Ligorio was serving as Vatican Architect unter Pope Paul IV. He remodeled several important residential buildings and chapels around Rome, and worked on several other projects. His classical studies and access to the Vatican Archives would have allowed for the wealth of toponymic knowledge displayed on the present map to be put together.
Michele Tramezini (fl. 1526-1571) was one of the leading figures of the Italian 'Lafreri School' of cartography, which was responsible for many of the finest and most influential maps of the sixteenth century. Following the sack of Rome in 1526, Michele and his brother fled to Venice, where Michele remained and published. While it is suggested that Tramezini remained in Venice for the rest of his life, this map shows that he was also active in publishing in Rome.
Tramezini published some of the most important maps of the 16th century. In 1555, Tramezini produced a magnificent world map, issued in two separate hemispheres. He also issued editions of Van Deventer's other maps of the provinces of the Low Countries, which subsequently became the basis of Gerard De Jode's fine maps of the region, first issued in the 1570s. Tramezini notably also published Fernando Alvares Seco's survey of Portugal (1561), the first printed map of that country.
This map is rarely offered for sale. The last example we locate as being on the market was offered by Christie's in 2004, where it made $20,832 (hammer). Prior to this, the object made $24,220 (hammer) in 1998, again at Christie's.
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.
Maps in Italian Atlases of the Sixteenth Century (Tooley 230)
Bifolco and Ronca 977
Pirro Ligorio (ca 1510-1583) was an Italian mapmaker, artist, and administrator. In 1534, he was appointed superintendent of ancient monuments for Popes Pius IV and Paul IV. Ligorio was a skilled painter and architect; his best known building work was as head of the team that finished the cupola of Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. He fell out with Pius V and left Rome for Ferrara, where he died in 1583.