Tempe

Method Copper engraved with hand colour
Artist Ortelius, Abraham
Published Delineatum et æditum auctore Ab. Ortelio cum privilegio decennali, 1590. [1612 Edition]
Dimensions 364 x 476 mm
Notes A dramatic view of the vale of Tempe, an idyllic classical paradise bordered by Mount Olympus, from the 1612 Italian Parergon (Supplement) of Ortelius' famous Theatrum Orbis Terrarum. The view is ornamented in beautiful hand colour, with the river Peneus at centre, running between the rocky slopes of Mounts Olympus and Ossa, on the Macedonian and Thessalian borders respectively. The Peneus joins the Aegean at the same point as the River Helicon, a temple of Jupiter occupying the promontory. At the top of Mount Olympus, the famous altar of Zeus is outlined dramatically against the clouded sky, while the sun sinks below the horizon of Mount Ossa. In the gentle wooded vale, numerous figures in classical dress gather. Some are depicted feasting or offer sacrifices, as described by Ovid, while others, nude, cavort in the river. A number of small barges travel up the river towards the city of Gonnum, while a sailing ship rests at anchor in the waters of the Aegean. The view is further embellished by a pair of strapwork cartouches, containing the title, and a passage from Ovid's Metamorphoses, describing the situation of the valley and its encircling woods. To further enhance the paradisiacal nature of the Vale of Tempe, the second cartouche features a pair of birds, the halcyon of the Greek poets, whose placid nests became emblematic of peace and serenity. Historically, this view is significant, being the first known printed depiction of the Vale of Tempe. Ortelius himself was the likely creator of the scene, advertised as such in the inscription to the bottom left. The view, one of only two from the Parergon, was intended as a pair to Ortelius' scene of the town of Daphne, a Seleucid settlement on the Turkish coast near Antioch, and a favourite resort town during the Roman era. The verso features a lengthy description in Latin, drawing upon Ovid, Athenaeus, Pliny, Herodotus, Varro, and Aelian.

The Parergon ('Supplement') was, as the title suggests, originally conceived of as a supplement to Ortelius' Theatrum. The work, a massive and intricately researched index of the classical world, was accompanied by a series of ancient world maps. Unlike the maps of the Theatrum, the majority of which were reductions of earlier maps, the maps of the Parergon were researched and drawn by Ortelius himself. The work was a huge commercial success, and the maps themselves set the standard for ancient world maps for the duration of the seventeenth century, being reproduced or reprinted by various publishers after Ortelius' final 1624 printing. His interest in the mapping of the ancient world is manifest. The maps of the Parergon are a veritable mine of textual commentary and classical philology, drawing upon Ptolemy, Strabo, Pliny, and many others. Interestingly, the project seems to have been a labour of love, rather than a mercantile venture. Ortelius himself was fascinated with the ancient world, and a formidable classical scholar in his own right. In addition to his work as a cartographer, he dealt in antiquities, visited and surveyed ancient sites across Europe, published a critical edition of Caesar's Gallic Wars in 1593, and assisted Welser in his studies of the famous Tabula Peutingeriana in 1598, producing an engraved copy of the map that can be found in later editions of the Parergon.

Abraham Ortelius (1527 -1598) was a Flemish cartographer, cosmographer, geographer and publisher and a contemporary of Gerard Mercator, with whom he travelled through Italy and France. Although it is Mercator who first used the word "Atlas" as a name for a collection of maps, it is Ortelius who is remembered as the creator of the first modern atlas. Theatrum Orbis Terrarum was the first systematically collated set of maps by different map makers in a uniform format. Three Latin editions as well as a Dutch, French and German edition of Theatrum Orbis Terrarum were published by 1572 and a further 25 editions printed before Ortelius' death in 1598. Several more were subsequently printed until around 1612. Ortelius is said to have been the first person to pose the question of the continents once being a single land mass before separating into their current positions.

Condition: Strong impression with full margins, ornamented in full and attractive hand colour. Central vertical fold as issued. Repaired tears to top and bottom of central fold. Time toning on verso from old frame. Italian text on verso with hand coloured initial.
Framing mounted
Price £1,200.00
Stock ID 46963

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