Gallia Geographica Galliae descriptio, de integro plurimis in locis emendata ac Regionum limitibus distincta; auctore Petro Plancio…
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The famous Ortelius/Vrients map of Greater France.
This gorgeous map of greater France is one of the most decorative charts of the country produced in the early 17th century. It was published as part of Abraham Ortelius’ famous atlas, the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, to which it was added after Ortelius’ death in 1598. It has become known as one of the ‘Vrients maps’, which were was compiled and added posthumously to the Theatrum by Ortelius’ collaborator, Johannes Baptiste Vrients.
As the Latin title of the map informs us, this is essentially an up-to-date geographical depiction of France as defined both by its recognized borders and by natural or topographical boundaries, such as the Alps, the Pyrenees, and the Rhine. The map also depicts the many regions falling under the French Crown, including Burgundy, Helvetia (Switzerland), Alsatia, Lotharingia, Lower Germany, as well as other more distant areas like Italia Gallica and Gallicia Alpinis.
The current chart of France appeared in two posthumous editions of the Theatrum: the first appeared in 1606, followed by a second edition in 1609. Neatline’s gorgeous example comes from the 1609 edition, which Vrients published only three years before his death. Dr. Marcel van den Broecke, a specialist in the maps and atlases of Abraham Ortelius, has built a comprehensive website for identifying the exact editions and states of all Ortelius maps (https://orteliusmaps.com/index.html). From this, we can ascertain that the Gallia map occurred in four versions of the Theatrum published by Vrients. The original 1606 edition was printed in 300 copies, and an Italian translation soon followed this in 1608, also in 300 copies. The second edition of the Vrients Theatrum was formally published in 1609, being issued in both a Spanish version (325 copies) and in a Latin version (300 copies). Following these editions, the Gallia map was no longer included, bringing the total number of copies of this map to about 1225.
Among the many innovations that Ortelius introduced in the Theatrum was the Catalogus Auctorum; a comprehensive bibliography of the sources Ortelius used for compiling his atlas. Ortelius’ practice of referencing ensured that later editors and publishers had to commit to a similar naming of sources. This particular map is recognized – both in the title and from the catalogus auctorum – as having been based on a separately compiled map by Peter Plancius (1552-1622), one of the greatest mapmakers in the Golden Age of Dutch cartography. It was printed by the Dutch master engraver, Joannes van Deutecum (who, among others, worked for Breughel the Elder) and was first published by Vrients in 1592, elucidating how, and how effortlessly, the knowledge of one mapmaker could be transferred to another.
Scattered foxing throughout. Two minor repairs in the margins. Image quality is superb.
Van der Krogt 3, 4000: 31C; Van den Broecke, 36.