[AGNESE, Battista (c. 1500-1564)]. Portolan atlas of the world. ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM. [Venice, c. 1542-46].
178 X 128mm. 30 leaves, COMPLETE, collation: [1-152], written and illuminated within narrow gilt frames on the obverse only of all bifolia, reverse of each bifolium blank. Dedication written in black ink in an accomplished calligraphic cursive hand, 3-column declination table with the figures in red and black, names of countries in Roman capitals, Latin, Spanish and Italian place names closely written in red and dark-brown ink in a fine humanistic minuscule. Full-page dedicatee's coat-of-arms, full-page armillary sphere, double-page Zodiac, 12 DOUBLE-PAGE MAP CHARTS, ALL ILLUMINATED IN GOLD AND COLORS, coastlines in blue or green with gold, land masses in the two final maps in light and dark green, the Red Sea hatched in red, rhumb lines in red and black, islands in red, green or gold, mountains and tree clumps in gold and green, the Gulf Stream in green, the route from Spain to Peru in gold, Magellan's circumnavigation in silver, elaborate multi-colored compass roses heightened with gold, windheads in blue, pink and gold, mileage scales in brown.
BINDING: early-18th-century mottled calf over the original beveled wooden boards, single gilt fillet around the sides, manuscript paper label of the castle library at Harff-an-der-Erft mounted on lower back cover, gilt edges, silver catches (clasps missing, rebacked, new vellum endleaves). Inside the back cover the original inset compass under glass (16mm diameter), surrounded by an illuminated manuscript 32-point windrose on vellum, with legends in German. THE BOARDS, COMPASS AND WINDROSE ARE FROM THE AGNESE WORKSHOP, while the original leather covering (presumably gold-tooled red goatskin as found on other Agnese portolans of this period) was replaced with calf at the time of Count Harff's ownership.
PROVENANCE: Adolf III von Schaumburg (Louvain 1511-1556 Brühl), from 1533 coadjutor and designated successor to the Archbishop of Cologne, Hermann V von Wied, whose reforms he so successfully opposed that he was appointed administrator of the archdiocese of Cologne in 1546 by Pope Paul III, and Prince Elector of Westphalia and Archbishop of Cologne by Charles V in January 1547. The dedication facing his coat-of-arms is unsigned: Reverendissimo Illustrissimo & Serenissimo Principi ac Domino Domino Adolpho Administratori sanctae Coloniensis Ecclesiae, Sacri Romani Imperii per Italiam Archicancellario. Principi Electori Westphaliae et Angariae Duci &c Domino meo gratiotissimo. He subsequently participated at the Diet of Augsburg in 1547 and the Council of Trent in 1551. He is buried in the choir of Cologne Cathedral. - Count Theodor Mirbach-Harff (1874-1944), who owned the atlas when Henry Wagner compiled his census of Agnese manuscripts (1931) and wrote to him that it had been acquired by an ancestor c. 1700 from the Gymnich family, whose castle stood near Harff. As the count also owned the great Mercator map of 1569 inscribed by the cartographer to a Baron von Gymnich, Wagner postulated that the Agnese codex had been Mercator's as well. Although his ownership of a collector's object of such luxury and expense is unlikely, the possibility cannot be entirely excluded, as Mercator would have valued Agnese's charts for their inclusion of the latest discoveries. - Sold after 1931 to M. Sinelnikoff of Orion Booksellers, London. - Boies Penrose (1902-76), who bought it from Charles Sessler of Philadelphia in 1938. - Sold to John Fleming in the mid-1970s, from whom it was acquired by the present owner.
Fo. 1v Dedication to Adolf von Schaumburg, unsigned but no doubt inscribed by Agnese or in his shop.
Fo. 2r Arms of the dedicatee.
Fo. 3v Declination table.
Fo. 4r Armillary sphere.
Fos. 5v-6r Zodiacal Circle for the planetary orbits, with the twelve signs, at the center a small eastern hemisphere; no string or volvelle.
Fos. 7v-8r Chart 1: Pacific Ocean ("Vermeglio Type"), showing the coasts of North and South America, California as a peninsula, the Moluccan Islands, Yucatan as an island, coast of Chile left blank.
Fos. 9v-10r Chart 2: Atlantic Ocean, showing the American, African and European coasts, Scotland as an island.
Fos. 11v-12r Chart 3: Indian Ocean, showing the coasts of Africa, the Middle East, India and China, eight windheads captioned in German.
Fos. 13v-14r Chart 4: North Sea, Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean, showing the Irish, British, Dutch, French, Biscayan and Ligurian coasts.
Fos. 15v-16r Chart 5: Atlantic and Western Mediterranean, showing the Iberian, Balearic, Canary Islands and African coasts.
Fos. 17v-18r Chart 6: Western Mediterranean, showing the coasts from Gibraltar to Sicily.
Fos. 19v-20r Chart 7: Central Mediterranean, showing the Italian and Dalmatian coasts; orientation with north at right.
Fos. 21v-22r Chart 8: Eastern Mediterranean, showing the coasts of Greece, Asia Minor, the Holy Land, Egypt and Libya.
Fos. 23v-24r Chart 9: Black Sea, showing the coasts surrounded by windheads captioned in Italian.
Fos. 25v-26r Chart 10: Eastern Mediterranean and Aegean Sea, showing the coasts and Greek islands in great detail, with hundreds of place names densely inscribed.
Fos. 27v-28r Chart 11: World on an oval projection, showing the course of Magellan's circumnavigation (1519-22), twelve golden-haired windheads captioned in Latin.
Fos. 29v-30r Chart 12: Atlantic hemisphere, showing the Americas, Europe, Africa and the Middle East on a globular projection.
Battista Agnese was the first cartographer to chart Marcos de Niza's American discoveries (1531-39), as well as those of Francisco de Ulloa (1539-40). At least 72 manuscript portolan atlases by him and his workshop are extant. They were produced as expensive collectors' objects, often for presentation. Henry Wagner in his description and census (1931) divided them into groups according to date, as their content slowly evolved over the decades. He grouped the Schaumburg codex (no. XXIV) with six other manuscripts, some of which are dated 1542. They share certain characteristics, such as showing the California peninsula with place-names. However, more features seem to point to a date in the mid-1540s, such as the Selim legend on the map of the Eastern Mediterranean; Holland, Brabant and Utrecht shown as islands; Magellan's name spelled "Maglanes" on the world map; the names of the winds in Italian on the Black Sea chart. Most importantly, the inscription listing Adolf von Schaumburg's titles and functions point to 1546 as a precise date of the dedication, after he was appointed administrator of the Cologne archdiocese and Prince-Elector, but before his nomination as Archbishop. The maps may well have been executed and assembled in the year or years preceding the presentation. The winds on the Indian Ocean chart and the windrose framing the compass in the back cover were presumably captioned in German to suit the dedicatee. It is these atlases which first presented on any maps the peninsula of lower California and the Vermillion Sea, the information of the discoveries of Francisco de Ulloa, who explored the Gulf of California in 1539-40 and provided the place names seen here.
The fine Doheny Agnese in its original binding, sold in our London rooms on 2nd December 1987, is signed and dated from Venice, 5 February 1544, but contains only 10 maps; the Ludwig Agnese (Sotheby's 6 December 1988, lot 38) and Paulo Giovio's Agnese (Christie's 17 November 1976, lot 277) belong to the c. 1538 redaction and each contain only 7 maps. THE SCHAUMBURG CODEX, CONTAINING THE FULL COMPLEMENT OF 12 DOUBLE-PAGE MAP CHARTS, IS ONE OF THE VERY FEW AND MOST COMPLETE AGNESE PORTOLAN ATLASES LEFT IN PRIVATE HANDS AND IN REMARKABLY FINE AND FRESH CONDITION.
LITERATURE: Henry R. Wagner, "The Manuscript Atlases of Battista Agnese," in Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America vol. 25 (1931), pp. 1-110, no. XXIV; W. Rüge, Aelteres kartographisches Material in deutschen Bibliotheken (Göttingen 1902) no. 13; C.U. Faye and W.H. Bond, Supplement to the Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada (1962) 436.1; The World Encompassed 90.