Abraham Ortelius (1527-1598)
Hand-colored copperplate engraving
16.75" x 21.25" paper
Condition: Very good, original color
Abraham Ortel, or Ortelius (1527-1598), was born in Antwerp in 1527 and was educated in Greek, Latin and mathematics. Ortelius began his career in cartography as a map colorist, and worked as a map and book dealer. Ortelius evolved into a keen and discerning expert on contemporary geographical knowledge and its expression in cartography, even traveling through
Italy and France with Gerard Mercator (1512-1594), his friend and rival.
In the 1560’s Ortelius conceived of the project that would win him international acclaim, the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, widely considered the first modern atlas. Ortelius collected the best
contemporary maps available, and had each re-engraved by the talented Flemish artist Frans Hogenberg (1535-90) into a standard format and graphic style, appended scholarly text to their versos, and published them as a uniform edition. He maintained the highest quality of paper, engraving and coloring, resulting in some of the most beautiful maps ever produced.
The Theatrum proved to be a landmark advancement over previous collections of maps. Suddenly, curious Europeans truly seemed to have the world at their fingertips. From the time of its first printing until well after Ortelius’ death, international demand for the Theatrum continued unabated. Between the first appearance of the Theatrum in 1570 and its final edition in 1612, it was printed in 31 editions and seven languages, a remarkable figure for the time.