An Italian Renaissance Humanist Look Back on the Classical Age in Southern Italy. First State.
Fantastic Lafreri School map of southern Italy showing ancient and modern toponyms scattered throughout the region. This first state of the highly detailed and appealing map was engraved by Sebastiano di Re, a student of Michelangelo, and published in the offices of Michael Tramezzino in Rome in 1558.
The map extends from Rome in the north (left) down to the southern tip of Calabria, with Sicily just showing. This was the only map published in Italy in the 16th century to use the distinctive geography shown, most notable in the overly angular Puglia. Both Ortelius and De Jode would copy the map for their respective atlases, removing the historical references and starting the map slightly further south, at Naples - likely to please King Phillip of Spain by focusing on the area ruled by his family.
References to ancient Rome abound on the map abound, reflecting the newfound Renaissance appreciation for classical history. Leading away from the capital are the many roads of ancient Rome, including the Via Appia, the Via Latina, and the Via Tiburtina. Ancient buildings, such as Hadrian's Villa, are marked. Interspersed is a mapping of modern, younger cities.
The map is highly decorative in the Lafreri School style. Tall ships pepper the Tyrrhenian and Ionic Seas, themselves stippled. Hills bear their characteristic rounded shapes and the typography includes both roman and italic script.
The map is very rare on the market. RBH and AMPR note only 1 example offered for sale in the past 20 years (2004).
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.
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.