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CONTE FREDUCCI, [Portolan chart of the Mediterranean], Ancona: [n.d., but c.1530.]
CONTE FREDUCCI, [Portolan chart of the Mediterranean], Ancona: [n.d., but c.1530.]

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CONTE FREDUCCI, [Portolan chart of the Mediterranean], Ancona: [n.d., but c.1530.]

Manuscript portolan chart of the Mediterranean on vellum, heightened in gold, 510 x 820mm. The chart covering the full length of the Mediterranean, and including the Black Sea, the Western European coastline up to Britain and Ireland, and the Baltic coasts of Germany and Denmark, coastlines in blue and sepia, numerous place names in sepia and red, principal rivers and lakes in blue, the Red Sea in red, islands coloured red, blue and gold, the lands decorated with mountains, cities and long extensive geographical descriptions. The principal cities include Granada, Paris, London, Genoa, Venice, Damascus, Jerusalem and Cairo, flags over Venice and Genoa, as well as numerous other settlements along the Nile, in North Africa, and along the Danube and Rhine, also decorated with six figures of kings and Turkish and Arabic rulers, major place names in sepia, the whole chart with a profusion of rhumblines in red and sepia, the neck of the chart with inscription Yhs m' Virgo: Conte Freducci anconitano la facta in ancona (The chart severely browned and affected by water, a section in Turkey damaged by a burn mark, margins slightly cracked and affected by rodent damage, old pin holes at major rhumb-line intersections, small holes to accommodate wooden bar at right hand border of chart, a few old wormholes.)

A RARE UNRECORDED PORTOLAN CHART BY CONTE FREDUCCI OF ANCONA: Nordenskiold's Periplus lists seven portolan charts and seven portolan atlases by Freducci dated from 1497 to 1539. This chart appears to be unrecorded, and although it has become damaged over the years, it is a fine chart which adds to the corpus of this interesting mapmaker. Freducci appears to have worked principally in Ancona but it is likely that like Benincasa (his mentor also from Ancona), he spent some of his time in Venice working on charts. This chart can be compared to the standard Mediterranean portolano dated 1497, in Wolfenbuttel, Herzog August Bibliothek, (illustrated in Nordenskiold, plate XXII). Although the descriptive texts are considerably longer in the present chart the major features, such as the towns, views, figures, mountains and lakes, are very similar. The form of the inscription at the neck of the chart would suggest that this was a work executed in the later period of Freducci's career, his early charts are always signed Ottomani, or Hectomanii, and there are several charts and atlases which use a similar form of words dating from the 1530s. The chart is well constructed and shows traces of considerable gold illumination, particularly to the islands and some of the decorative figures. It was undoubtedly a chart of high quality. The absence of a date on the legend with the space left blank suggests that it was made in preparation for a client who perhaps failed to pay, leaving the final date unfinished.

Freducci's work closely resembles Benincasa in the outline forms and particularly in his representation of Britain, Ireland and the northern areas of Europe. The inclusion of the mythical island of Brazil off Ireland, named Montorius (as Benincasa) is a continuation of an old tradition. Freducci however has adopted many forms now recognised as the Catalan style of chart making, based on a diffuse school of chartmakers in Sicily, Naples and Majorca who used figures, extravagant texts and decoration to fill the map. Nordenskiold, Periplus, Stockholm, 1897, p.64; History of Cartography, vol.I, p.452.
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