Florence, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Portolano 1

Mappa Mundi 1457 Facsimile Edition

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The Mappa Mundi 1457, also known as Portolano 1, is a beautiful and very famous example of cartographic document. Coming from the de’ Medici’s collections in the Bibliotheca Palatina, this oval-shaped map embodies one of the most significant representations of cartography from the 15th century. The work is dated back to the second half of the 15th century, specifically 1457.

Unknown Artists of the Mappa Mundi 1457

The Mappa Mundi 1457 is the work of a cartographer of catalan origin, who created this magnificent document with the help of an illuminator, and possibly, of a copyist – all unknown.

The work – written partly in Latin and partly in vulgar language – is executed on parchment and it exhibits vivid illustrations with lively colors such as white, light blue, green, red, and their different shades. The decorations feature a significant use of gold.

Detailed Iconographic Apparatus

Both the iconographic and textual apparatus are significantly detailed: the seas are filled with fish, mermaids, and ships, whilst the dry land features perspectival drawings of cities, standards, rulers’ portraits, all realistically illustrated.

With over 300 toponyms, the Portolano 1 is one of the first documents bearing evidence of the increasing importance of sailing beyond the Mediterranean trading routes. The map clearly shows a deep interest in the possibility of navigation in the Mare Indicum (today’s Indian Ocean), simultaneously revealing the dreams, hopes, and limitations of expansion and trade with the Indian civilization of mid-15th century.

Gothic Script

The map features a beautiful example of littera textualis, the most popular version of gothic script.

We have 1 facsimile edition of the manuscript "Mappa Mundi 1457": Mappa Mundi 1457 facsimile edition, published by Istituto dell'Enciclopedia Italiana - Treccani, 2008

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Map description compiled by the publisher.
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Mappa Mundi 1457

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, Mappa Mundi 1457: 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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