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The First Large Scale Map of Asia Minor and Environs

Important early 2-sheet map of Asia Minor, Cyprus, and Turkey by Giacomo Gastaldi, engraved by Paolo Forlani for Giacomo Gastaldi and dated 1564.

Gastaldi's map is one of the earliest modern maps of the region. The map extends form the Aegean to the Euphrates River, with a marvelous detailed depiction of Cyprus.  The map is based upon Gastaldi's 4-sheet map of Asia and was originally engraved by Paolo Forlani and published by Fernando Bertelli.  

The map was first published in 1564, with a dedication to the humanist Florentine Cosimo Bartoli (1503-1572).  However, it is possibly the map could be a bit earlier, as it is known that Gastaldi requested the privilege for the map on April 29, 1559.

Roberto Almagià opined that Gastaldi in collaboration with Michele Membrè, a Cypriot who in 1550 was chosen by the Republic of Venice as a Turkimanno (an official mediator in commercial negotiations with the group of Turkish merchants who frequented the Venetian market of Rialto) had already made a map of the region around 1550, as shown by a request of privilege dated July 15, 1550.  However, no copy of this hypothetical map is known.

From a cartographic point of view, while the map retains some fundamental Ptolemaic elements, the work is primarily based on nautical charts of the period. 

Map States:

  • State 1: Dated M.D.LXIIII and signed by Paulo Forlani Veronese.
  • State 2: Same date, but with Forlani's name partially removed.
  • State 3: Dated MDLXX.
Condition Description
Two sheets, joined. Minor soiling. Margins added, as is normal for Lafreri School maps. Discoloration at centerfold.
Bifolco Ronco #166
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.

Giacomo Gastaldi Biography

Giacomo Gastaldi (1500-1566) is considered the foremost Italian cartographer of the sixteenth century, alongside Paolo Forlani. His skills of compilation are comparable to those of Mercator and Ortelius, yet much less is known of his life than of his two contemporaries. Gastaldi was born in Villafranca, Piedmont, but had established himself in Venice by 1539. He originally worked as an engineer, but turned to mapmaking from the 1540s onward.

It was in Venice where he made his reputation as an engraver, geographer, and cosmographer; for example, he was asked to fresco maps of Asia and Africa in the Palace of the Doge, or the Council of Ten, Venice’s governmental body. He also frequently consulted on projects for the Savi sopra la Laguna, drawing maps for this body which oversaw the regulation of fresh and salt water around Venice. 

His contemporaries also recognized his skill, as he was named cosmographer to the Republic of Venice, was a member of the Accademia Veneziana, and was a major source for other geographers and mapmakers including Camocio, Bertelli, Cock, Luchini, and Ortelius. He even had his own distinct style of copper engraving that made him a pioneer in his day and makes his works iconic today.

Gastaldi enjoyed an especially productive relationship with Giovanni Battista Ramusio, Secretary of the Venetian Senate, who used Gastaldi's maps for his famous travel account collection, Navigationi et Viaggi. Gastaldi also tutored Ramusio's son in cosmography.