Carta Particolare del’Mare Occeano dal’Isole d’Asores di Flores, e Corvo sin alla Terra Nuova in America…
SIR ROBERT DUDLEY
Published 1661, Florence
Image Size: 14.9" X 18.9"
An impressive chart of beauty and style depicting the North Atlantic from Newfoundland to the Azores. This rare map is the 2nd state which was originally published in Arcano del Mare, in 1646, a work described as “one of the greatest surviving textual and visual monuments to England’s growing engagement with the maritime world.” Only two editions of the Arcano del Mare were ever published, thus making his charts rare on the open market.
It’s relevance to cartography comes from the fact that Sir Robert Dudley was the first cartographer to publish a work charting the entire world using only Mercator’s projection with the addition of prevailing winds, ocean currents and magnetic declinations. As such, the relevance of Mercator’s projection to sailing charts, first used by Gerardus Mercator on his famous wall map in 1569, is based on the fact that it sailors could now use longitudes and latitudes to mark their headings. Prior to Mercator’s projection, rhumb lines emanating from wind roses would be distorted and would give sailors an incorrect basis on which to chart their course and determine distances. By using Mercator’s projection, Dudley was able to produce charts using only longitudes and latitudes, yet still give mariners an appreciation of the the distances and directions from one nautical point to another. The Arcano de Mare is also renowned for the first representation of Great-circle navigation where the shortest sailing distance between two points along a “great-circle” can be charted.
Dudley, a distinguished sailor in his own right following an expedition to the West Indies in 1594 and a successful raid on Cadiz, Spain during the Anglo-Spanish war in 1596, was the illegitimate son of the Earl of Leicester. When Dudley was unsuccessful in 1605 to have his hereditary titles recognized by James I, Dudley left England and sought employment with the Medici Grand Duke of Tuscany, Ferdinando I, in Florence. It was during this time that Dudley embarked on his famous maritime Atlas. Dudley’s Arcano del Mare follows in the footsteps of fellow English cartographer, Richard Hakluyt and was the first major cartographer to challenge the monopoly of Dutch mapmakers during their golden age of cartography.
Map collectors are also drawn to Dudley’s charts because of their aesthetic beauty emanating from his use of the “alla cancellresca script” or Florentine style of calligraphy. In fact, Dudley’s attention to detail coupled with the fine engraving of Antonio Lucini, was a work that spanned over four decades and is a testament to the excellent workmanship that can still be appreciated three and half centuries later.
(Sources: The Sailings, National Imagery and Mapping Agency. Mentz, S. Secrets of the Sea, John Carter Brown Library.)