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Ortelius, Abraham, 1527-1598. Theatrum orbis terrarum


  • [The Theatrum orbis terrarum of Abraham Ortelius (first edition 1570) is generally considered to be the first modern printed atlas -- a collection of maps, on leaves of the same size, bound in book form. It includes maps of the world, the continents known to Europeans at the time, and more detailed country and regional maps, primarily within Europe.] Supplementary material includes the Parergon (an atlas of ancient geography, first included in a 1579 edition and published separately in 1624); an essay by Humphrey Llwyd, De Mona druidum insula; a list of cartographers whose works Ortelius consulted; and a detailed index. Theatrum orbis terrarum was issued in numerous expanded and updated editions, in multiple languages, into the 17th century. Printed as a large folio volume, this work was also abridged and adapted with smaller-scale maps as a less expensive, portable pocket atlas generally known as the Epitome (first edition 1577).

  • URI(s)

  • Instance Of

  • Components

    • Ortelius, Abraham, 1527-1598.
    • Theatrum orbis terrarum
  • Scheme Membership(s)

  • Collection Membership(s)

  • Work Begun

    • (edtf) 1570
  • Work Locale

    • (naf) Antwerp (Belgium)
  • Form

    • (lcsh) Atlases
  • Form

    • (lcgft) World atlases
    • (lcgft) Early maps
  • Variants

    • Ortelius, Abraham, 1527-1598. Theatrvm orbis terrarvm
    • Ortelius, Abraham, 1527-1598. Theatrum
    • Theatrum orbis terrarum
  • Additional Related Forms

  • Exact Matching Concepts from Other Schemes

  • Closely Matching Concepts from Other Schemes

  • Sources

    • found: Ortelius, Abraham. Theatrvm orbis terrarvm, 1595.
    • found: Ortelius, Abraham. Theatrum orbis terrarum, 1570, viewed online 22 August 2019:title page (Theatrum orbis terrarum [all upper-case, with "U" as "V"; text uses "u" in medial position]) leaf A2 recto (Abrahamus Ortelianus Antuerpianus) leaves C1 recto-C2 verso (Catalogus auctorum tabularum geographicarum, quoquot ad nostram cognitionem hactenus peruenere; quibus addidimus, vbi locorum, quando, et a quibus excusi sunt; [a list of cartographers, with titles of their works that Ortelius consulted]) leaves D1 recto-D2 recto (Index tabularum huius operis, siue Inscriptionum earundem [alphabetical list of maps, plus list of countries and islands not on separate maps]) maps 1-53 ([maps and associated texts]) leaves a1 recto-b1 verso (De Mona druidum insula, antiquitati suae restituta (cuius in Angliae descriptione meminimus) epistola nobilis et eruditi viri Humfredi Lhuyd) leaves b2 recto-o1 verso ([detailed index of locations on maps]) leaf o2 recto (colophon: Auctoris aere & cura impressum absolutumq́ue apud Aegid. Coppenium Diesth, Antuerpiae xx. Maii. M.D. LXX.)
    • found: Koeman, C. The history of Abraham Ortelius and his Theatrum orbis terrarum, 1964:title page (Theatrum orbis terrarum) pages 27-35 (1st edition 1570; bibliographic description: Theatrum orbis terrarum, on engraved title page; dedication: D. Philippo Austriaco ...; preface: Abrahamus Ortelius Antverpianus benevolis lectoribus ...; Catalogus auctorum tabularum geographicarum; Index tabularum; Quoniam interdum plures regiones; 53 map sheets, with 70 maps; De Mona Druidum insula ... epistola ... Humfredi Lhuyd; on title page, symbolic figures represent 5 continents: Europe, Asia, Africa, America, and Magellanica (lands south of Straits of Magellan, roughly Antarctica but mostly terra incognita); Catalogus auctorum tabularum geographicarum: list of names of European cartographers (geographers) active at or about Ortelius's time; kept accurately up to date during series of editions (1570-1603, expanded from 87 names to 183); included, at end, De Mona Druidum: extensive treatise by Welsh amateur historian Humfred Lhuyd, concerning Isle of Man [actually argues for identification of Latin Mona with Isle of Anglesey, Ynys Môn in Welsh, as opposed to Isle of Man]) pages 38-44 (expensive book; de luxe copies also printed; between 1570 and 1612, 33 editions, including translations; in Theatrum, worked over other people's maps; also Parergon: atlas of ancient geography, a personal work of Ortelius, who draughted the maps himself; title page and three pages apear in 1579 edition of Theatrum; gradually increased to 39 maps; later reprinted separately) pages 44-45 (the so-called Epitome: recasting of the Theatrum as a chapbook; a "first" in history of cartography of atlases: compilation of a description of world, in digest form, originally in rhyme, illustrated by means of a few, quite simply executed little maps; in cheap, simple get-up within reach of lower middle class; initiative for it came from Philip Galle, friend and collaborator of Ortelius; first edition 1577, under title: Spieghel der Werelt; Dutch, French, Latin, German, Italian, English, and Spanish editions, various titles; also various derivative publications, imitations of Theatrum and Epitome)
    • found: Oxford dictionary of national biography online, 5 August 2019(Ortelius, Abraham (1527-1598); map maker; spent his life in Antwerp; in 1570, published Theatrum orbis terrarum, considered to be the first modern atlas, handy collection of maps of the same dimensions providing a survey of the world as known up to that moment; first edition: 53 maps, list of 87 map makers used as sources; 21 enlarged editions, with added maps, and 13 supplements (Additamenta) during lifetime, another 13 enlarged editions after death to 1641; original Latin text of the geographical descriptions was translated into German, French, Spanish, Dutch, Italian, and English (1606); Filips Galle issued popular version of Theatrum as Spieghel der Werelt (Mirror of the world, 1577); most editions of this pocket atlas are known under title Epitome; Ortelius more of a map editor than an original cartographer; obtained maps and information from the best authorities for compilation of his atlas; as humanist, a pioneer in construction of historical maps related to ancient world, which designed himself, in Parergon, an appendix to the Theatrum (from 1579), published separately in 1624; compiled catalogue of all place names listed by classical authors, along with their modern forms; catalogue initially part of Theatrum, then published separately (Synonymia geographica, 1578; reworked as Thesaurus geographicus, 1587))
    • found: Short, John R. Making space, 2004:page 5 (Ortelius's Theatrum; Theatrum orbis terrarum; the first modern printed atlas; arguably one of the world's first atlases; one of the most influentual) page 72 (begun around 1566-67, by 1568 in full production; volume completed 1569, sold to public 1570) pages 73-76 (sought out the most accurate current maps; listed all names of cartographers whose work he had used: 87 names for 1st edition, 170 by 1595, and 182 in 1603 edition; most maps gridded and plotted; maps of the world, New World, Asia, Africa, and Europe; larger-scale maps then follow; no detailed maps of New World; compass for scale; pictorial icons for towns, mountains, forests; engraved frontispiece with imagery of maidens as the 4 continents; little decoration in map margins; short bits of writing accompany the maps, less standard historic-geography and more textual discussion of the map itself, citing ancient and modern authors; book hugely successful; almost 7,300 copies in 89 editions eventually printed, as late as 1724) page 77 (a history of geographic thought)
    • found: Thrower, Norman J. W. Maps & civilization, 2008:page 81 (Abraham Ortelius (Oertel) of Antwerp; with Theatrum orbis terrarum, credited with producing the first modern uniformly bound collection of printed maps designed especially for this type of publication; 1st edition May 1570, containing 70 maps, immediately successful, followed by 2 more editions same year; employed the compilations of many cartographers (usually one per country with acknowledgment) but had the maps engraved on a uniform format) page 84 (between 1570 and last printing, dated 1612, published in more than 40 editions, translated into Dutch, German, French, Spanish, Italian, and English)
    • found: Cartographica Neerlandica website, 13 August 2019:Broecke, Marcel P.R. van den. Unstable editions of Ortelius' atlas (Theatrum orbis terrarum; Theatrum; Ortelius often characterised as being merely publisher and compiler rather than cartographical innovator, but recent research by Peter Meurer (Peter H. Meurer, "Fontes Cartographici Orteliani: das 'Theatrum Orbis Terrarum' von Abraham Ortelius und seine Kartenquellen," Weinheim: VCH, 1991) has shown that the innovative nature of form and content of Theatrum should not be underestimated)
  • General Notes

    • [The Theatrum orbis terrarum of Abraham Ortelius (first edition 1570) is generally considered to be the first modern printed atlas -- a collection of maps, on leaves of the same size, bound in book form. It includes maps of the world, the continents known to Europeans at the time, and more detailed country and regional maps, primarily within Europe.] Supplementary material includes the Parergon (an atlas of ancient geography, first included in a 1579 edition and published separately in 1624); an essay by Humphrey Llwyd, De Mona druidum insula; a list of cartographers whose works Ortelius consulted; and a detailed index. Theatrum orbis terrarum was issued in numerous expanded and updated editions, in multiple languages, into the 17th century. Printed as a large folio volume, this work was also abridged and adapted with smaller-scale maps as a less expensive, portable pocket atlas generally known as the Epitome (first edition 1577).
  • Change Notes

    • 1987-08-12: new
    • 2019-08-23: revised
  • Alternate Formats