MEERWUNDER UND SELTZAME THIER.. SEA MONSTERS

£1500

Meerwunder und seltzame Thier/ wie die in den Mitnåchtigen Låndern im Meer.

Superb sought after Munster's original Sea Monsters

This is one of the more fanciful cartographic curiosities and a unique view of Renaissance attitudes toward the unknown lands beyond the civilized world. This woodblock illustration presents a compendium of monsters that were thought to exist in the sixteenth century. Many subsequent mapmakers used these monsters to illustrate the lands and seas of the unexplored world. Across the top is a panel showing land-based creatures, including reindeer, elk (here shown pulling a sleigh), snakes, and a gluttonous bear. The majority of the 'monsters' are ferocious sea creatures shown devouring hapless sailors and wrecking ships. There is a massive lobster shown with a person in its claws and a huge fanged whale erupting fountains of water from its head, as well as a tree that appears to bear ducks as fruit.

Exceptionally good condition.

Very good hand colour

References: cf. Manasek, p. 118.

code : M4873

Cartographer : Sebastian Munster

Date : 1570c Basel

Size : 26*35 cms image. sheet 36*44 cms

availability : Available

Price : £1500

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Originally a scholar studying Hebrew, Greek and mathematics, Sebastian Munster (1489-1552) eventually specialised in mathematical geography and cartography. It was this double ability - as a classicist and mathematician - that was to prove invaluable when Munster set himself to preparing new editions of Solinus’ “Memorabilia” and Mela’s “De Situ Orbis”, two classical descriptive geographies containing maps, and his own two greatest works, the “Geographia” and “Cosmographia”. These reflect the widespread interest in classical texts, which were being rediscovered in the fifteenth century, and being disseminated in the later fifteenth and sixteenth century, through the new medium of printing.

The “Geographia” was a translation of Ptolemy’s landmark geographical text, compiled in about 150 AD., illustrated with maps based on Ptolemy’s calculations, but also, in recognition of the increased geographical awareness, contains a section of modern maps. In the first edition of the “Geographia”, Munster included 27 ancient Ptolemaic maps and 21 modern maps, printed from woodblocks. Subsequent editions of the “Cosmographia” were to contain a vast number of maps and plans.

One consequence of Munster’s work was the impetus it gave to regional mapping of Germany, but Munster was also the first cartographer to produce a set of maps of the four continents on separate maps. Most importantly, through his books (the “Geographia” and “Cosmographia” alone ran to over forty editions in six languages), Munster was responsible for diffusing the most up-to-date geographical information throughout Europe.