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This rare map of South America, created by Paolo Forlani, stands out as the first detailed representation of the continent's interior and is the sole map of South America produced by the Lafreri School. Distinguished as one of the earliest printed continental maps of South America, it depicts the continent along with a significant portion of the West Indies, including Central America and a truncated Florida. The shape of South America is portrayed in a stout, diamond form, with the Straits of Magellan separating the mainland from a large Tierra del Fuego. Before Schouten and Lemaire's 1615-1617 circumnavigation, the map illustrates Tierra del Fuego as extending into the map's southern edge, reflecting the belief that it was part of a vast southern continent.


In contrast to Forlani's world maps from the 1560s, this map shows the Amazon with an east-west orientation rather than north-south. It depicts the river branching into several more in the interior, alongside mountainous terrain. The Rio de la Plata delta is exaggeratedly wide and dotted with islands. Toponym placement reflects the uncertainties of European geographical knowledge about South America in the mid-sixteenth century. Quito and Cartagena are situated far inland, while Lake Titicaca, referred to as Titicacha, is deeply nestled in the continent's center.


A finely detailed cartouche in the upper right corner bears the title and dedication to Giovanni Pietro Contarini, Forlani's patron and a historian. A decorative compass rose embellishes the stippled waters of the South Seas. Influenced by the work of Giacomo Gastaldi, another Venetian cartographer, this map diverges notably from contemporaneous interpretations, such as Diego Gutierrez's 1562 wall map of the Americas. Overall, this map exemplifies the Lafreri School's craftsmanship and Forlani's distinctive style, making it a prized possession in elite institutional collections and a rarity on the market.


Except of some marginal restorations in the upper margin, this map is in mint condition. As often with Lafrereri maps, this map was mounted on blank papers on all four side in order to create a uniform paper size for binding in an atlas. The map is a copper engraving.


Paolo Forlani 

Paolo Forlani was a highly productive map engraver operating in Venice during the sixteenth century. Little is known about his personal life except for the maps and prints he left behind, numbering nearly 100 (or 185 when considering later states). It is believed he originated from Verona and passed away in Venice around the mid-1570s, possibly due to the plague.


The Lafreri School:

The Lafreri School refers to a group of mapmakers, engravers, and publishers who operated in Rome and Venice from around 1544 to 1585. These individuals, though loosely connected through business partnerships and collaborations, produced maps that were later assembled into composite atlases. The selection of maps for these atlases was based on the preferences of the buyer or compiler. Initially, the maps were published individually, resulting in a wide range of styles and sizes being included under the umbrella of the "School."


The surviving Lafreri atlases showcase this diversity, with maps bound in various formats such as folded maps, those with wide or trimmed margins, smaller maps, and more.


Prominent figures within the Lafreri School included renowned mapmakers like Giacomo Gastaldi and Paolo Forlani. The eponymous Antonio Lafreri, after whom the School is named, was primarily a map and printseller. His 1572 catalog, titled 'Indice Delle Tavole Moderne Di Geografia Della Maggior Parte Del Mondo' shared a similar title to many of the composite atlases, leading to his name becoming associated with the entire output of the larger group.

South America - La Descrittione Di Tutto Il Peru - Paolo Forlani

SKU: 2013
  • Cartographer

    Paolo Forlani

  • Date

    ca. 1562

  • Colouring


  • Dimensions (cm)

    Image: 51.5 x 36.8

    Sheet:  54 x 39.2

  • Condition


  • Condition Rating


  • Reference Number


  • Authenticity Guaranteed


  • Reference

     Bella 5, Meurer 190, Tooley 93 


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