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Genoa At The Height of Importance as A Commercial Trading Center

Rare 16th Century Italian view of Genoa, published in Rome by Claudio Duchetti and Ambrogio Brambilla.

The view is centered on the historical harbor and docks, which were then at the height of their commercial importance as one of the world's most important trading centers.  The view also highlights the dramatic topographical features of Genoa's harbor, along with the numerous aqueducts that carried water across the many small valleys.  The harbor is filled with boats and large piers, a reflection of Genoa's importance as a trading site, one of the most powerful in the world in the 15th and 16th Centuries.

Genoa's massive lighthouse (Laterna di Genova) appears at the fair left, the tallest lighthouse in the world from the time of its construction in 1543 until the completion of the lighthouse on Ile Vierge in France in 1902.  It is also the third oldest lighthouse in the world, replacing a prior lighthouse on the site, which dated to 12th century.

This fine large view include a compass rose eight wind directions (north is at the top, although not specifically noted.).

The legend provides a list of 58 places of interest and notable monuments, spread over ten columns. 

The map is drawn from a similar view published by Antonio Lafreri in 1573. The present view adds the coat of arms of Naples.

States and Rarity

The view is known in 2 states:

  • State 1:  Duchetti imprint, dated 1581
  • State 2:  Orlandi imprint added, date changed to 1602.

The view is very rare. Bifolco locates 6 known examples in institutional collections.  We note only a single example at auction in the past 50 years (Sotheby's 2000, offering the State 2 of the view). 

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.

Bifolco-Ronca #7038.