Friday, October 25, 2013

The making of a mysterious Renaissance map

The Carta Marina, made in 1516, relied on detailed knowledge from nautical charts and books.
Martin Waldseemüller's 1516 Carta Marina sought to present the most up–to–date conception of the world at that time.
Equal in size to his 1507 map, the Carta Marina is markedly superior to the earlier map in artistic detail,
possibly reflecting the hand of the artist Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528).
It incorporates greatly expanded and corrected geographical information.
The Carta Marina could be considered the first printed nautical map of the entire world. 
However, in part because of the controversies surrounding his earlier naming of the Western Hemisphere “America,” Waldseemüller omits the word from the Carta Marina, and indicates that North America is joined with Asia.
Credit: Courtesy of the Library of Congress and the Jay I Kislak Foundation.

From LiveScience (by Tanya Lewis)

Not much is known about how Renaissance cartographer Martin Waldseemüller created his 1516 "Carta marina" world map, possibly the most up-to-date conception of the world at the time.

But scholar Chet Van Duzer offered a rare peek into Waldseemüller's process Tuesday night (Oct. 22) during a talk here at the New York Public Library.
"A careful analysis of his sources allows us to go inside his workshop in Saint-Dié [in France] and essentially watch him at work as he made the Carta marina," Van Duzer, who is based at the Library of Congress, said in his talk.
[See Photos of the Mysterious Carta Marina Map]

Van Duzer and his colleague John Hessler recently published a book on Waldseemüller's works entitled "Seeing the World Anew: The Radical Vision of Martin Waldseemüller's 1507 & 1516 World Maps," (Levenger Press, 2012).

 Atlantic Ocean and surrounding lands, from Waldseemüller's edition of Ptolemy, published in 1513.
Note the name of the land mass on the left.
What famous name has been removed from this map?

Waldseemüller is best known for his 1507 world map, the first to call the New World "America."
The cartographer began his career, Van Duzer said, by basing his maps on those of the Alexandrine geographer Claudius Ptolemy from the second century A.D.
These maps were based on geographic descriptions in books, rather than direct maritime knowledge.

Martin Waldseemüller's Carta marina of 1516 has always remained in the shadow of his 1507 map--less famous and less studied.
In fact the Carta marina is in several ways more interesting than the 1507 map: it is the result of Waldseemüller's radical re-evaluation of what a world map should be.
Waldseemüller essentially started from scratch in creating the Carta marina, rejecting the Ptolemaic model and other sources he had used in creating the 1507 map, and adding more descriptive text and a rich program of illustration.
In this talk Van Duzer examines the differences between the two maps and discuss the new sources that Waldseemüller used, placing particular emphasis on his iconographical sources.

But in making the Carta marina, printed just nine years later, Waldseemüller abandoned his older sources in favor of contemporary nautical charts, maps of maritime regions and coastlines that seafaring explorers of the time would have used.
"When he came to create his new monumental world map, the Carta marina, Waldseemüller made a choice between these two competing cartographic systems, the Ptolemaic tradition and the nautical chart tradition," Van Duzer said — "and he based his map on nautical charts."

Waldseemüller based the Carta marina's coastlines on a nautical chart made by Nicolo de Caverio of Genoa in about 1503.
The two maps have similar coastal place names and layouts.
For example, the shapes of Greenland, the eastern coast of South America and Africa are nearly identical.

One major difference is that the Carta marina omits a large part of northeast Asia and Japan — probably because these regions were relatively unknown to European explorers, Van Duzer said.
Unlike the Caverio map, Waldseemüller's map is crowded with descriptive texts and illustrations of royal rulers.

The Carta marina depicts King Manuel of Portugal riding a sea monster near the southern tip of Africa, symbolizing Portugal's control of the sea route between Africa and India.
The image was most likely inspired by an image of Neptune riding a sea monster in Italian printmaker Jacopo de’ Barbari’s print of Venice, Van Duzer said.

The map also includes an image of Noah's Ark resting in the mountains of Armenia, probably based on similar images in other nautical charts of the time, Van Duzer said.

The Carta marina depicts India as a land of animalistic people and barbarism.
For instance, there's an image of "suttee," the Hindu practice of a widow burning herself to death on the funeral pyre of her husband.
Other less well-known areas, such as America, contain images of cannibalism.

Carta Marina: the title continues with the explanation:
"A Portuguese Navigational Sea-chart of the known Earth and Oceans."
As stated by Peter Whitfield "This map is in fact the first and only printed version of the world charts previously known only to Spanish and Portuguese explorers and their patrons" (Whitfield 1994, 54-55). Waldseemüller’s debt to the Cantino map is clear in his 1516 map.
Two years after publishing the great "Carta Marina" Waldseemüller died, leaving a legacy of maps and a book, and the name "America" on maps.
 -page of the book showing Florida (see with zoom)

Despite these seemingly outdated images, the Carta marina still represents a leap forward in cartography, because Waldseemüller relied on much more updated sources than he did for his earlier 1507 map.
In addition to nautical charts, Van Duzer's analysis reveals, the Renaissance cartographer relied on books written by recent explorers.
"The Carta marina is Waldseemüller’s most original creation," Van Duzer said.
"He began his cartographic career by redrawing Ptolemy, but ended it by creating something entirely new, a mosaic image of the world with each stone of his own careful choosing."

Links :
  • LOC : Compare 1507 map and Carta Marina 1516
  • MapHist : Legends on Martin Waldseemüller's Carta Marina of 1516, with comments from Joaquim Alves Gaspar, CIUHCT, University of Lisboni)
    1/ The Carta Marina is indeed very similar to the Caverio planisphere (1505) and was most probably based on it. But the Caverio itself is copied from the Cantino planisphere (1502) and from other unknown Portuguese sources of the time.
    2) The only signs that Columbus conception of the world was adopted are in the legends, not in the geometry of the chart, which is identical to Cantino's. In the Cantino, the separation between Asia and America seems clear: there is a legend near the eastern margin reading "Oceanus occideroriêntalis" which probably means "an ocean eastward of China and westward of America";
    3) If the geometry of the chart is identical to Cantino's, which was based on latitudes, magnetic courses and estimated distances, why the square mesh? Apparently Waldseemuller was also convinced (like many others) that this was a "square chart". It is interesting to notice that this kind of explicit mistake (i.e., the square grid) is not shown in any pre-Mercator chart of Portuguese (and Spanish, I presume) origin.
  • GeoGarage blog :  Worlds upon worlds : about the Waldseemüller world map (1507) / A world redrawn : when America showed up on a map, it was the universe that got transformed
  • Google's Michael Jones-need Apollo mission for the Ocean

No comments:

Post a Comment