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Cartographica Helvetica


Corradino Astengo:

The Genoese cartographer Vesconte Maggiolo and his work

Cartographica Helvetica 13 (1996) 9–17


Vesconte Maggiolo (c. 1475 – c. 1550) is considered the most eminent cartographer of his family, which monopolized map-making in the Republic of Genoa for over a century and a half, even receiving an annual salary from the state for a certain period. During the age of the great discoveries, it seemed logical that Vesconte Maggiolo would specialize himself in producing nautical charts containing the information he gathered from navigators.

The current list of works includes 24 nautical maps and atlases, all of which are splendid manuscripts. Except for the decorative figures which were sometimes stamped and then hand-coloured, Vesconte Maggiolo made no use of the newly developing printing techniques. His only project for a printed map, namely a world map modeled after the Carta Marina which was produced by Martin Waldseemüller in 1516 in Strasbourg, failed.

Because the Spanish and Portuguese rulers were so secretive, Vesconte Maggiolo's nautical charts do not always show the latest discoveries. The last atlas by this Genoese cartographer merits special attention. Besides three nautical maps, it also contains a 'planispheric' map, a product of the author's geographic knowledge acquired in the course of his long life, dedicated to cartography.

Bibliographic note

  • Article translated from Italian by Arthur Dürst and Ivo da Col, Zürich.

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