Decorative map of the southern sky, published by Vincenzo Maria Coronelli in Venice. This example appeared in Coronelli's Corso Geographico. The map identifies the constellations of the southern sky, richly decorated with information about the stars in each of the constellations and the coat of arms of the Republic of Venice.
Coronelli's service with Louis XIV led him to collaborate with JB Nolin, who provided him with access to the best available French maps at a time when France was asserting its pre-eminence in the field of map making. As a result of this access, Coronelli's maps are among the most accurate of their time, combining the best available geographical information with Coronelli's remarkable engraving style.
The detail on this map is extensive and attractive. The major constellations of the southern sky are included with drawings overlain depicting what they represent. On either side of the chart lie tables documenting the brightness of stars in various constellations and summing up the cumulative brightness of both the northern and southern skies. Dedicated to the most serene Republic of Venice.
Vincenzo Maria Coronelli (1650-1718) was one of the most influential Italian mapmakers and was known especially for his globes and atlases. The son of a tailor, Vincenzo was apprenticed to a xylographer (a wood block engraver) at a young age. At fifteen he became a novice in a Franciscan monastery. At sixteen he published his first book, the first of 140 publications he would write in his lifetime. The order recognized his intellectual ability and saw him educated in Venice and Rome. He earned a doctorate in theology, but also studied astronomy. By the late 1670s, he was working on geography and was commissioned to create a set of globes for the Duke of Parma. These globes were five feet in diameter. The Parma globes led to Coronelli being named theologian to the Duke and receiving a bigger commission, this one from Louis XIV of France. Coronelli moved to Paris for two years to construct the King’s huge globes, which are 12.5 feet in diameter and weigh 2 tons.
The globes for the French King led to a craze for Coronelli’s work and he traveled Europe making globes for the ultra-elite. By 1705, he had returned to Venice. There, he founded the first geographical society, the Accademia Cosmografica degli Argonauti and was named Cosmographer of the Republic of Venice. He died in 1718.