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Important Early Map of Tuscany

Rare example of one of the first recorded issues of Girolamo Bellarmato's Chorographia Tusciae, originally created in 1536.  The original no longer survives, but a later state, dated 1554, is known to survive in a single example.

The map including the islands of Elba, Giglio, Giannutri and part of Corsica, and covering the whole of Tuscany, part of Liguria, Lombardy, Emilia, Umbria, and south as far as Rome. The map shows armies and a fortress near Siena. 

The map is derived from the large four-sheet woodcut map by the Sienese military architect Girolamo Bellarmato, for which one known example is known to survive.  Salamanca improved upon Bellamato's work, in particular making important geo-physical corrections, as well as redrawing the coastline. Armies have been added to the plate and can be seen around Siena, but were deleted in later issues of the map.  The map is also no longer in a trapezoidal shape and the coverage extends further to the west and to the north.

Bifolco notes that the map was issued prior to 1558, the year Salamanca became partners with Lafreri.

Bellarmato conducted an early survey of Tuscany, made by traveling on horseback, which was completed in 1536.  In describing the original Bellarmato map, Leonardo Rombai notes:

Though it may reflect some wishful thinking in its exaggeration of the area between Magra and the Tiber in a period when the Medici were hurriedly pushing to establish a regional state, [Bellarmato's] map is the result of direct observations, notations, and measurements taken while traveling on horseback over the greater part of the area. Drawn to a scale of approximately 1:325,000, the map abounds in place-names, roads, and bridges. The size of the town symbols varies with the number of inhabitants (information useful for military billeting and conscription), and special attention is focused on fortified centers. Bellarmato’s dedication to the Medici condottiere Valerio Orsini leaves no doubt that the map was intended as a tool of military planning.


Bellarmato's original map survives in a single example, printed in 1554.   This is one of several early single sheet copies of the map, all of which are very rare on the market.

The map is extremely rare, with only a few known surviving examples.

Provenance:  Christies, May 19, 1998.

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.

Condition Description
Minor dampstaining. Margins extended in the style of Lafreri maps.
Rombai: Cartography in the Central Italian States from 1480 to 1680: The History of Cartography, Volume 3: Cartography in the European Renaissance, Part 1; Tooley 567 (7 copies); further copy in the Biblioteca Marciana, 45; reproduced in Almagià, MIC Tav. XXIII; watermark Woodward 242.
Antonio Salamanca Biography

Antonio Salamanca was a print seller and publisher based in Rome. While he was known by the surname Salamanca, his family name was actually Martinez; he hailed from Salamanca, Spain. His shop was in the Campo de’ Fiori and it served as a gathering place for those with antiquarian interests. Later in his career, he partnered with Antonio Lafreri, the era’ most prominent Italian map publisher. Salamanca’s stock was sold to Lafreri after the former’s death.

Girolamo Bellarmato Biography

Girolamo Bellarmato (also called Bell'Armato or Bellarmati) was born in Siena and likely spent his youth in Urbino, where he studied of mathematics, cosmography and architecture

Part of an old politically influential family, in 1525, Bellarmato's family was forced to leave Siena and were sent into exile in Ancona. The family attempteed to return to Siena, with the support of the Pope and the Florentines, but the attempts failed, and Girolamo's father and brothers Giulio and Scipione were imprisoned and executed in Siena.

Girolamo traveled extensively around Italy, teaching the mathematical sciences and perfecting his mapmaking and architecture studies. As a mapmaker, his best known work was his Choroaphia Tusciae, a woodcut map in 4 sheets published in Rome in 1 536.

In about 1538, Bellarmati moved to France as an engineer, where he oversaw the fortifications of a number of cities, including Le Havre, Dieppe and Paris.

Girolamo returned to Italy in 1546, first in Piedmont then in Modena, called by Ercole II to direct the restoration of the city walls. The Sienese invited him to return home but Bellarmato refused returning to France, where he died in the spring of 1555.