ORTELIUS, Abraham (1527-1598). Theatrum orbis terrarum. -Parergon. -Nomenclator ptolemaicus. Antwerp: Joannes Moretus at the Officina Plantina, 1601.
3 parts in one volume, 2° (472 x 318mm). Engraved allegorical title, full-page engraved portrait of Ortelius, woodcut architectural border to Parergon title, large Plantin device on Nomenclator title, 153 engraved maps, including 35 in the Parergon, all on guards, most double-page, FULLY COLOURED BY A CONTEMPORARY HAND AND HEIGHTENED IN GOLD, numerous woodcut ornamental initials. (Dampstain at lower corner, occasionally extending to lower margin, some browning, some spotting to text leaves, tears at fold of about 30 maps but with loss in only one, short marginal tears in 6 maps, slight adhesion along fold in 25 plates, stain in one leaf.) Bound as a gift from Cosimo II de' Medici in Italian burgundy morocco gilt over flexible paper boards, sides panelled and with large central lozenge containing the Medici arms, the upper cover lettered 'COSM.II.MAG: DUC: ETR: MECOENATIS ET DOMINI MUNUS', flat spine gilt, edges painted, gilt and gauffered, evidence of 2 fore-edge ties (slightly rubbed, repairs to board edges and head and foot of spine, some light waterstaining). Provenance: Cosimo II de' Medici (1590-1621), gift to an unnamed recipient (binding); Earl of Ilchester (Holland House bookplate, sale Hodgson's, 13 May 1948, lot 395, £130 to Marks).
A FINE, ILLUMINATED COPY OF THE THEATRUM, BOUND FOR PRESENTATION TO AN UNKNOWN RECIPIENT FROM COSIMO II DE' MEDICI. Cosimo II continued the Medici tradition as patrons of the arts and sciences. He was particularly interested in scientific learning, an interest developed in him by his tutor, Galileo. Galileo dedicated his treatise on the theory and use of the compass to the young Cosimo. Galileo later honoured his former pupil by naming the four planets of Jupiter after him in Siderius Nuncius (1610), recording Galileo's first observations with his new invention, the telescope. Cosimo also patronised the Accademia della Crusca, sponsored elaborate plays and other performing arts.
The Holland House copy, it is one of a relatively small number of books which survive from a once-great library founded by Henry Richard, 3rd Lord Holland (1773-1840). Holland House was hit by incendiary bombs in September 1940, destroying over half the library, and leaving most of the remainder water- or fire-damaged. The Medici Ortelius escaped with only minor water-staining to the binding, leaving the fine colouring almost wholly unaffected.
The 1601 edition of Ortelius's landmark atlas was the last printed at the Plantin-Moretus press. Later that year the Ortelius heirs sold the plates and rights to Jan Baptist Vrients of Antwerp. The maps are numbered 1-115, with additions 25*, 25**, and 25***, plus 35 map sheets in the Parergon (Koeman 1-3, 6-14, 17-38). The maps and plates in the Parergon may be considered 'the most outstanding engravings depicting the wide-spread interest in classical geography in the 16th century' (Koeman III, p.69). Koeman Ort 33; Shirley 158.