Florence, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, MS Banco rari 32

Florence Atlas by Battista Agnese Facsimile Edition

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The Florence Atlas by Battista Agnese is one of the most beautiful cartographic manuscripts from the Renaissance. It was written and illuminated throughout the first quarter of the sixteenth century. With its ten beautifully drawn and illuminated maps, the work is one of the most elegant and lavish small-format atlases of the Renaissance.

Geographic and Cartographic Innovation

The Florence Atlas by Battista Agnese was part of the collection of Antonio Magliabechi (1633-1714), a famous scholar and bibliophile. In 1673, he was summoned by grand duke Cosimo III, who entrusted him the management to the Biblioteca Palatina.

As the title suggests, the atlas is the work of Battista Agnese, a famous cartographer from Genoa, active in Venice between 1536 and 1564. He created a work that is not only geographically innovative but also highly exquisite from an illustrative standpoint.

Wealthy Audience and Imago Mundi

The use of high quality material, the fine drawing technique, the elegant use of colors bear testimony to the quality of the work, almost certainly destined to a wealthy and demanding audience, wishing to be updated on the latest discoveries.

After nine cartographic charts, the oval depiction of the world offers a synoptic view of the European expansion and the representation of the imago mundi of the mid-fifteenth century. In the middle of the world stand out the two most significant routes that changed the perception of the world: the first circumnavigation of the world by Ferdinando Magellano and el viazo del Perù, the route through the isthmus of Panama to the West coast of South America.

Set in the back cover is a compass surrounded by a rose of the winds, which is a very common feature of cartographic documents.

Da Sommaia Family: Commissioner or Recipient?

The iconographic structure is certainly as original as its content: a golden frame joins in one graphic space the verso and the recto. Featuring among the several cartographic illustrations is the coat of arms of the Florentine family Da Sommaia, either commissioner or recipient of the work.

We have 1 facsimile edition of the manuscript "Florence Atlas by Battista Agnese": Atlante Nautico di Battista Agnese facsimile edition, published by Istituto dell'Enciclopedia Italiana - Treccani, 2008

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Manuscript book description compiled by the publisher.
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Atlante Nautico di Battista Agnese

Rome: Istituto dell'Enciclopedia Italiana - Treccani, 2008

  • Commentary (Italian) by Gil, Juan; Benzoni, Gino; Cattaneo, Angelo
  • Limited Edition: 750 copies
  • Full-size color reproduction of the entire original document, Florence Atlas by Battista Agnese: the facsimile attempts to replicate the look-and-feel and physical features of the original document; pages are trimmed according to the original format; the binding might not be consistent with the current document binding.

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