Lafreri: Italian cartography in the Renaissance

In September 1862, Willem d'Hanens-De Wolf, alderman of the City of Sint-Niklaas, presented an 'atlas de vieilles cartes' to the Society of Antiquaries of the Land van Waas (Koninklijke Oudheidkundige Kring van het Land van Waas, Sint-Niklaas, Belgium). That rather bland description disguises a cartographic gem. For bound together in a simple parchment cover are 94 rare old maps. The most recent date from 1567, making this one of the earliest Italian composite atlases. 'Lafreri. Italian Cartography in the Renaissance' situates the collection of maps within the sixteenth-century world of printers and publishers, where atlases, like print collections, were assembled to order. It also highlights the role of the atlas in the journalism of the day. Like press photos 'avant la lettre', some of the maps, the so-called news prints, bring us a pictorial report of current events such as the Italian wars and the Great Siege of Malta.

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