2010/11 Winter Catalogue, William R. Talbot Fine Art, Antique Maps & Prints Home

2010/11 Winter Catalogue > 23. HOMANN’s 1716 MAP of SICILY & SARDINIA


Johann Baptist Homann. “Regnorum Siciliae et Sardiniae nec non Melitae seu Maltae Insula cum adjectis Italiae et Africae Litoribus Nova Tabula” (Nuremberg, Johann Baptist Homann, 1716). First edition. Published in Grosser Atlas Ueber Die Ganze Welt. Double-page copperplate engraving with bright original hand color. 19 x 22 1/4" at neat line with full margins. Sheet: 21 x 24." Impressive uncolored title cartouche (as issued). Two insets: “Cataneae urbis eique vicini Montis Aetnae in Sicily prospectus” and “Valletta civitas Maltae. . .” Minor scattered spotting, mostly in upper margin. Overall, fine with vivid original color.

Price: $700. [ Order ]

This large and handsome map of Sicily, Sardinia, and neighboring islands represents the height of the cartographic work of Johann Homann, one of Europe’s premier eighteenth-century mapmakers. The map exhibits all the hallmarks of his style: beautiful engraving, exceptional detail, and an impressive allegorical title cartouche at top center. The cartouche contains figures representing the Greek gods Demeter, Bacchus, and three cherubs bearing royal crests. An accompanying vignette features Vulcan at work in his forge, which was believed to be located at Mount Aetna. Further decorative details include several ships on the sea, and an image of a crusader in association with the inset map of the fortified city of Valletta on Malta. The inset map of the ancient city of Catania is set within a bird’s-eye view that encompasses Mount Etna and the sea coast. The larger map shows the Aeolian Islands, a volcanic archipelago located north of Sicily in the Tyrrhenian Sea. A wealth of details includes cities, churches, roads, rivers, forests, and mountainous areas.

When Johann Baptist Homann began his business as a cartographer in 1702, he founded a dynasty that was to last into the nineteenth century. Following the long period of Dutch domination, the Homann family became the most important map publishers in Germany. After the founder’s death in 1724, the firm continued under the direction of his son until 1730 and was then bequeathed to his heirs on the condition that it trade under the name of Homann Heirs. Maps with this imprint continued to exert a wide influence on map publishing in Germany.

In 1715, Johann Baptist Homann became a member the Prussian Academy of Sciences and was appointed Imperial Geographer of the Holy Roman Empire. The following year, Homann published what is considered to be his masterpiece, the Grosser Atlas ueber die ganze Welt (Grand Atlas of all the World, 1716), and dedicated the work to Charles VI, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. The present map was produced for the first edition of Homann’s Grand Atlas, and exhibits all the hallmarks of his style—expert engraving, exceptional detail, a highly embellished allegorical title cartouche, and rich color—making it a sumptuous example of mapmaking from the Baroque period. This is a wonderfully detailed map of Sicily and its volcanic neighbors. Each region is rendered in full color, which, in combination with the decorative cartouche and the two inset maps, makes for an outstanding and visually rich example of the eighteenth-century mapmaker’s art.

Ref.: LeGear, 5966.18.

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