Abraham Ortelius (1527-1598)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarium (Antwerp, 1574)
First published in 1570, Ortelius’s Theatrum Orbis Terrarium (Theatre of the World) is considered the first modern atlas, a cultural watershed and commercial success reprinted in twenty-five editions in the author’s lifetime. Buyers could choose either an ordinary version with uncolored maps, or a deluxe version with the maps colored by hand, as in this copy from a Latin edition of 1574. I selected the book partly for its arresting beauty, but mainly for its capacity as a time-machine, for in looking at these old maps, we truly see the world through the eyes of the scholars and explorers who drew them.
NC5.Or850.570tl, Gift of Mrs. T. Jefferson Newbold, 1950