Produced in 1550 by the Cretan cartographer Giorgio Sideri, also known as Calapodà, this chart is a very interesting example of mid-sixteenth century nautical charts. It shows the Western hemisphere, i.e. Europe, Africa, and parts of Asia and the New World, at a time when new information about America was gradually increasing in Europe. On the southwest edge of the map, the signature of its author and the date of its creation is indicated as Georgio Callapodha cretensis meffecit nell’anno domini 1550 de 14 luius (“Giorgio Calapodà from Crete made me on 14th July 1550”).
Written in Italian and Latin, the chart is richly decorated and full of details, such as orographic references both in Africa and Asia and several coats of arms in Europe. The depiction of the coats of arms of various nations is a common feature of Calapodà’s works.
A Map Between Cartography and Art
This chart is drawn on a single sheet of parchment, and measures 72 x 106 cm. The work is especially remarkable for its decorative features. Seven richly decorated compass roses and four ornamented scales of miles are included in the map. In fact, Capalodà’s charts are known, among other characteristics, for their elaborate wind roses.
Capalodà uses sepia and blue colors for the coastlines and place-names. Most of the islands are in blue, though some of them are colored with gold, red, and green. The iconographic details in Europe are worth mentioning: we can see the coats of arms for England, Scotland, France, Germany, Poland, Hungary, and Spain, and the cities of Genoa and Venice are drawn.
In Asia we can see the tents of the tartars, as well as abundant orographic details in Africa. In northwestern Africa, a beautiful wind rose serves as the intersection of the latitude and longitude scales that divide the map into four quadrants.
A series of flags are located along the eastern coast of America, and North America is still described as Asia Orientalis (‘Eastern Asia’), though we can see the name of new settlements like Florida.
Sideri used gothic script for the American regions and for the Atlantic Ocean, but a big and florid script for the name of Peru, which in that time alluded to a much larger area than the Peru we know nowadays.
Giorgio Sideri’s portolan chart is an outstanding example of the artistic and geographical value of sixteenth-century cartography. It is held in the Correr Museum Library in Venice under the shelfmark Port. 6.
Giorgio Sideri, Calapodà. A Mediterranean Cartographer
Not much is known about Calapodà’s life. He was born in Candia (Crete), where he produced a six-sheet atlas in 1537. Nevertheless, most of his works were produced in Venice, where he moved afterwards, producing a series of maps between 1541 and 1565.
Working for local patrons rather than for international customers, his works are characterized by elaborate decoration and attention to detail, as well as by an influence of earlier cartographers like Battista Agnese and the Majorcan and Venetian cartographic traditions.
We have 1 facsimile edition of the manuscript "Portolan Chart 6 by Giorgio Sideri Known as Calapodà": Portolano 6 - la Carta Universale in Stile Marino di Giorgio Sìderi Detto Calapodà facsimile edition, published by Istituto dell'Enciclopedia Italiana - Treccani, 2016Request Info / Price