Cartographer(s): Donato Bertelli
Date: 1569
Place: Venice
Dimensions: 41.5 x 26 cm (16.3 x 10.2 in)
Condition Rating: VG

In stock

SKU: NL-01335 Categories: ,

Donato Bertelli’s bird’s-eye-view of Renaissance Florence.


This evocative burin etching provides a bird’s-eye-view of the Italian city of Florence (Fiorenza). It was compiled by Donato Bertelli of the Lafreri School of cartography and was issued in Venice circa 1569. As such, it constitutes a Late Renaissance representation of a city that, more than any other, embodied this decisive period in human history.

At the top of the view, the title “FIORENZA” is engraved in large characters, split in the middle by the city’s heraldry. The title is divided by a decorative vignette consisting of two winged women sitting on clouds and holding between them Il Giglio Fiorentino: Florence’s fleur-de-lys-based coat of arms that was adopted by the Guelphs in 1251. Some attribute this specific composition of Fiorentine heraldry to Paolo Forlani. However, although he uses a similar design, Bertelli’s engraving style differs significantly from Forlani’s more elegant and refined approach.

Along the left margin is a numerical legend listing sixty notable places and monuments within the city. As a testament to the early phase of urban cartography that this view was made in, the sites listed in the legend do not have corresponding numbers in the view itself. The legend is quite up-to-date in that it includes the Corridore (54), which refers to the recently completed Vasari Corridor (Corridoio Vasariano): an elevated and enclosed passageway built in 1565, which connects Palazzo Vecchio with Palazzo Pitti. Despite the reference in the legend, the corridor is not actually depicted in the image. Both the composition and its perspective are based on Francesco Rosselli’s woodcut from the 1480s. 

Ultimately, Bertelli’s view stands among the most celebrated due to its period-specific appearance, which captures this Renaissance hub’s iconic features and picturesque qualities on the Arno River.


Donato Bertelli

The Bertelli family represents the largest group of publishers, engravers, cartographers, and merchants of 16th century prints. The most productive was Ferrando Bertelli, active between 1560 and 1570, but maps of the last quarter of the century are known with the signatures of Andrea, Donato, Lucca, Nicolò, and Pietro. The latter was mainly active in Padua, where he led a printing and engraving workshop.

Donato Bertelli (active 1558-1592) was a Late Renaissance printer, publisher, and mapmaker. Operating under the banner of San Marco in Venice, Bertelli was one of the more prominent members of the ‘Lafreri School’ of cartography working out of Rome and Venice during the 16th Century.

Although born in Padua, Donato Bertelli moved to Venice as a young man and spent his entire career there. In 1559, shortly after first arriving in town, he found work in Ferrando Bertelli’s workshop. When Ferrando died, Donato either took over the entire shop or at least acquired his plates, which he then used to launch his publishing career. Donato Bertelli would also publish plates from other Lafreri mapmakers, including Forlani and Camocio, and would often make the prints his own by adding personal elements.

Condition Description

Some minor blemishes in the margins, else very good.


Bilfolco Tav. 1098.