Americae Sive Novi Orbis Nova Descriptio
Ortelius, Abraham, 1527-1598 (Cartographer, Engraver)
Date created
Type of resource
Still image
Maps (documents)
Historical maps
Map/Globe, Image
Digital origin
reformatted digital
Each succeeding decade following the first New World discoveries created its own revolution of knowledge, but a watershed in the growth and illustration of geographical information was the atlas published in 1570 by Abraham Ortelius, a businessman native to Antwerp. The Theatrum Orbis Terrarum was the first atlas in the modern sense of the word, as Ortelius compiled the best existing maps, re-engraved them on a standardized format, and included them with text in one volume. This was a landmark innovation, and the Theatrum was arguably the first printed production to have a major impact on the world perspective of contemporary Europeans. Despite their relationship as competitors, Ortelius and his fellow cartographer Gerard Mercator were close friends, and together they represented the major proponents of the most celebrated period in the history of mapmaking.
Ortelius's maps are rightly considered among the most beautiful ever produced, and the seamless combination of science and art is nowhere more visible than in his landmark map of the Americas, America Sive Novi Orbis Nova Descriptio (America, or New World, Newly Described). Much of the map's information rested upon Mercator's great world map of 1569, especially the distorted shape of South America. Place names in the heartlands of North America, also from Mercator, originated with the explorations of Fray Marcos de Niza and of Francisco Vasquez de Coronado. Although greatly exaggerated westward, North America was correctly shown with California as a part of the mainland, and the entire continent was indefinitely divided between New Spain and New France. Accompanying the advanced geographical knowledge that the map presented is an amazing wealth of visual detail. The maps of Ortelius boast examples of the most beautiful Renaissance strapwork ever engraved, and the glorious cartouche is crowned by winged lions, creatures that are echoed in the lovely grottesque pattern of the map's border. Rightly celebrated for unequalled beauty as much as for outstanding discovery, this map represents a monumental moment in the history of mapping.
The Abstract/Description provided for this map is taken from an accompanying gallery schedule.
Related item
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum
Early American and European Maps
Subjects and keywords
Early American Maps
North America
Central America
South America
Pacific Ocean
Permanent URL
Northeastern University Library
Use and reproduction
No Copyright. The organization that has made the Item available believes that the Item is in the Public Domain under the laws of the United States, but a determination was not made as to its copyright status under the copyright laws of other countries. The Item may not be in the Public Domain under the laws of other countries. Please refer to the organization that has made the Item available for more information. http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/NoC-US/1.0/


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