Ptolemy's Geographia: A 15th-century Florentine Illuminated Manuscript

This manuscript belongs with a group of atlases based on the geography of Ptolemy (Claudius Ptolemaeus), a renowned mathematician and geographer who flourished in Egypt in the 2nd century. It was not until the early 15th century that his work was introduced to Western Europe. Ptolemy's conception of the known world was based on mathematical formulae. By contrast, in Europe maps were still drawn from personal experience or based on idealistic or religious points of view. Produced in Florence in the 1460s or 1470s, this manuscript contains a world map and twenty-six regional maps "” ten of Europe, four of Africa, and twelve of Asia extending as far east as India. In view of its date, the atlas obviously takes no account of the future discoveries of the Americas. The maps, which belong to the first recension of Donnus Nicolaus Germanus, were presumably made by a specialist cartographer, such as the Florentine Pietro del Massaio.


Ptolemy. Geographia [Geography]. Illuminated manuscript in ink, tempera, and gold on vellum; in Latin. Florence, ca. 1460-70. Translated from the Greek by Jacopo di Angelo da Scarperia, 1406. Donnus Nicolaus Germanus, cartographer.
The New York Public Library, Manuscripts and Archives Division.


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