The World's Most Important Maps from the Arader Galleries
Item 4 is the first obtainable map to depict America. Other than a 1506 Roselli map and the 1507 Waldseemuller "America" map, each known in only one copy, this map from Johannes Ruysch, published in 1507, is the earliest. It was said that Ruysch traveled to North America, and if so, he would be the first mapmaker to have visited the land, though it does not appear it helped his accuracy all that much. Ruysch did get South America right, at least in depicting it as a separate continent, labeled "New World," but North America is shown attached to Asia. Once upon a time it was, but that was much longer ago than 1507 (a few hundred million years). Ruysch did improve on the earlier views of India, accurately depicting its triangular shape. $550,000.
Martin Waldeemuller was first to use the name "America" on a map, in his 1507 version. However, by the time he produced Item 6 in 1513, he had withdrawn the name. Evidently, he must have learned later that the land was discovered by Columbus, not Amerigo Vespucci, but his earlier name stuck, not the "Terra Incognita" he used this time. Nevertheless, his Claudii Ptolemei, with 47 maps, is an extraordinary atlas, containing the first map devoted to America. While hardly a perfect representation, many features are clearly recognizable, including the Florida peninsula, the Gulf of Mexico, Cuba and Hispaniola. $850,000.
Item 9 is the earliest obtainable map to name the New World "America." It is boldly written across the continent of South America (North America is little more than a medium size island). It is contained within Caius Solinus' millennium-plus old work Polyhistor (a 1518 edition from Joannes Camers), bound with another ancient text from Pomponius Mela and Vadianus' letter upholding the naming of the continent after Vespucci. $275,000.
Item 12 is a most interesting world map attributed to mapmaker Sebsatian Munster. While the sea monsters and assorted scary creatures are entertaining (one wonders whether people really believed these creatures existed in far-off lands), what is most notable are the angels turning cranks at the top and bottom of the globe. Copernicus had not yet published his theory that the Earth rotated, but reports of it, so to speak, had been leaked to intellectual circles. What is interesting is that this theory could be depicted so freely. In the following century, Galileo would get in serious trouble with the Church for such blasphemy, but at this time, people evidently did not realize that this would become an issue. $45,000.
Abraham Ortelius was one of the great Dutch map and atlas makers, in the period when the Dutch dominated the field. His work is well represented in this catalogue, but here is an unexpected one-of-a-kind Ortelius -- a portrait by Adriaen Key. This oil painting was created no later than 1579 as it began to be included at that time in Ortelius' atlases. A copy of the Key portrait would be commissioned in the following century of artist Pieter Paul Rubens. The Key portrait is the only known one of Ortelius painted during his lifetime. This portrait was purchased by J. Paul Getty in 1938, and donated by him to the J. Paul Getty Museum in 1954, which de-accessioned it this year. Item 21. $380,000. There are many more maps and atlases of similar worth and importance to be found in this catalogue. The Arader Galleries may be reached at 212-628-3668 or visit their web site www.aradergalleries.com.