Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

email signup Blog Video Facebook Twitter Instagram

The Kraus Map Collection


Kraus 24, Universale Descrittione di tutto il Mondo di Gioseppe Rosaceio Cosmographo... (Between 1642 and 1647)

    To magnify or reduce image, use mouse scroll wheel or click on magnification scale.

    Holding the Shift key while clicking and dragging will zoom into the selected area.

    To pan image, click or click and drag the navigational arrows.

Title   Universale Descrittione di tutto il Mondo di Gioseppe Rosaceio Cosmographo...
Cartographer   Rosaccio, Giuseppe (ca. 1530 - ca. 1620)
Subject   World maps
Publisher   Mazza, Giovanni Battista, fl. 1590-1597
Repository   Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
Place of publication
     or creation
Date(s)   Between 1642 and 1647
Format   Printed map
Kraus catalog no.   24
Dimensions in mm.   1080 x 1850 mm.
Rights   No known U.S. copyright restrictions. Please cite the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin, as the image source.


Large wall map of the world in the oval projection of Bordone and Ortelius, engraved by Giovanni Battista Mazza, with many dramatic scenes, especially of the life and customs of natives of North America; depictions of ships and sea monsters and of Neptune in his chariot, inserted in ocean areas; large allegorical figures of the four continents and views of their principal cities, in the corners; long geographical and ethnological notes in various places within the map and along its upper and lower margins. The whole framed by an ornamental border. Small loss of original map at extreme left (central Pacific ocean) replaced in manuscript; date "1597" in headline entered in ink. Assembled from 10 sheets, overall measurement: 1080 x 1850 mm.

Rosaccio's huge world map is his magnum opus, and ranks as a masterpiece among that type of great wall maps which were among his age's contribution to geographical study. As such, it is among the last to use the oval projection that before 1600 was considered especially suitable for the purpose, first calculated in the ratio of 1:2 for the mean meridian's relation to the equator (as here) by Leonardo da Vinci, and first used in a published map by Benedetto Bordone in 1528.

Although basically this map shows the cosmographical knowledge of an up-to-date scholar of the 1590's, it has been revised, nearer the date of impression, to record the results of an important piece of early 17th- century exploration - the identification of Cape Horn and the rounding of Tierra del Fuego. Although the most prominent of the dates "1597", in pen, may be a much later addition, the same date makes two other appearances, both undeniably in print, elsewhere upon the map. Similarly, although the loss at the extreme left of the map was not serious, it has been carefully restored, evidently after another copy, at an early date.

The first state of this map (1597) naturally represents the 16th-century conception of Tierra del Fuego as a projection of a great and otherwise unknown southern continent. The only known copy of it is now at Harvard.1 Of an undeniably later state, the sole copy previously known (in the Museum Prins Hendrik, Rotterdam)2 has the headline date "1597" amended by re-engraving to "1647", while the "1597" printed date - present in both the Harvard copy and the present one - in the rectangular tablet in the middle of the map has been similarly altered. A copy of a revised edition (1647?) is also at Yale.
Despite an element of uncertainty introduced here by the fact that the main date is in manuscript, the present copy must be an impression from the 1597 plates of earlier date than the Rotterdam copy, which was published actually later than 1647, as lC bears the imprint of the Remondini family of Bassano who started business no earlier than the late 1650's.3

The present copy of the map must date from later than the Flarvard copy, since it has been updated to show the features of the southern side of Tierra del Fuego which had, perhaps, been seen by Sir Francis Drake in his circumnavigation in 1578, but which were first systematically identified by Jacob Lemaire and Willem Cornelisz Schouten in 1616, and accurately surveyed by the Nodal brothers in 1619.4 Present on the map, however, is the "Isola di Diego Ramiero", named by the Nodals after their cosmographer Diego Ramirez.5 On the other hand, the persisting traces of the coastline of the austral continent as taking in Tierra del Fuego, not quite cleared in the re-engraving, show that this is the original plate re-worked, and the original Dutch names imply that the re-drawing was previous to the considerable late-17th century exploration of the area, although the marking of Staten Land (to the east of Tierra del Fuego) as an island must reflect Hendrik Brouwer's experience there in 1643.6

Giuseppe Rosaccio (c. 15 30-1620) was a Venetian physician and cosmographer. He was an authority on the Geography of Claudius Ptolemy, of which he published the Italian version of Ruscelli, with additions by himself in 1598-1599 Also important was his Discorso... delta Nobilita e Eccellenza delta Terra rispetto à Cieli (Florence c 1610-1615), a speculative world geography which summarized recent published accounts of Pacific voyages This book contains an interesting hemispheric world map engraved by the author's relative Alovisio Rosaccio, to which the cosmographer explicitly refers in this text as an improved version of the 1597 state of the present map: although Rosaccio was familiar with narratives of the expeditions of Drake and Cavendish, the improvements in the map were ones made to the west coast of America, while his conservative depiction of Tierra del Fuego as an integral part of the southern continent remained unchanged. Francis Drake is, however, noticed in this wall map in the appearance of the legend "Nova Albione" in western North America, both in the present and in the original 1597 state.

A good deal of other fresh and detailed information about America is given, in the shape of islands, coastal place names and a nearly accurate depiction of California as a peninsula. The true trend of the continent, especially, for instance, a well-nigh correct form for western South America, shows Rosaccio's acqaintance in 1597 with such cartographic work as Ortelius' revised world map of 1587, Rumold Mercator's double- hemisphere world map of the same year, and perhaps, the previous work of his own engraver, Giovanni Battista Mazza, about whom little or nothing is known save that he was a Venetian who engraved a map of the New World (see No. 15 in this catalogue).
The Rosaccio map is comparable in the accuracy of its delineation and in the width of its ethnographical interest with the famous and unique copy of Peter Plancius' world map of 1592, with which it shares its recording of the "Polo della Calamita", a mountainous island off the western end of the northern coast of America, where both locate the magnetic pole: this has vanished from Plancius' 1594 world map. On the other hand, Rosaccio makes New Guinea unmistakably an island of ample dimensions, and closes in the Pacific Ocean to the south with an austral continent nearly as extensive as that Ortelius showed in 1587. It is through this, shown as very mountainous near South America, that the later hand has cut the "Fretum Lemair" (sic) and marked in the "Novom (sic) Mare Australe" in the present state.

The earliest colonization of the eastern part of what is now the United States is singled out for special attention by Rosaccio: both the French settlement in Florida (1562-1565) and the English settlements in Virginia (1584-1585, 1585-1586, 1587) are made prominent, though it is Raleigh's Roanoke colony that gets the lion's share of the coverage, being mentioned in legends in mid-Atlantic, within North America, and in the large blank areas of the austral continent at the bottom of the map. Both colonies are correctly located, and some of their place names are carefully recorded. Exquisite miniature scenes of the social and religious customs of North American Indians, as witnessed in Florida and Virginia, come from the work of Jacques Le Moyne and John White, respectively, and are early and fine derivatives of De Bry's America (I and II) as published in 1590-91.

The present world map, apparently in a state intermediate between the 1597 (Harvard) and 1647 (Rotterdam) Rosaccio maps, occupies a significant place in the publication of the great discoveries of the early modern period.

1. See H. P. Kraus, Catalogue 56, no. 27 and plates 19-20.
2. Roberto Almagià. "Un grande planisfero de Giuseppe Rosaccio (1597)” in: Revista Geografica Italiana (1924), pp. 264-269.
3. See G. J. Ferrazzi, Di Bassano e dei bassanesi illustri (Bassano, 1847), pp. 164-167; S. di Giacomo, “La Stamperia Remondini di Bassano…” in: Emporium, LIX (1924), pp. 19-35.
4. De Villiers, The East and West Indian Mirror… and… Australian Navigations of ... La Maire (London, Hakluyt Society, 1906).
5. Markham, Early Spanish Voyages to the Strait of Magellan (London, Hakluyt Society, 1911), p. 247.
6. L. C. Wroth. “The Early Catography of the Pacific”, in: Papers of the Bibliog. Soc. of America (1944), pp. 172-173.