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Robert Dudley: Imperio de Guiana

Map: SAM2990
 
Cartographer: Robert Dudley
Title: Imperio de Guiana
Date: 1647
Published: London
Width: 27 inches / 69 cm
Height: 21 inches / 54 cm
Map ref: SAM2990
Description:
Dudley's survey of the mouths of the Amazon and Orinoco Rivers, and the surrounding coastline. Published in his landmark work Dell'Arcano del Mare [The Secrets of the Sea] (1645-46). One map bears a dedication to the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Dudley's patron, and the other has a similar dedication to the Grand Duchess. These two maps are the only charts in the atlas that are based on Dudley's first-hand knowledge making them two of the most desirable.

Sir Robert Dudley, the author, was born the illegitimate son of the First Earl of Leicester (also Robert Dudley) in 1574. He left England in 1605 in self-imposed exile after failing to legitimize his claim to his father's titles. In Florence he found employment working for the Duke of Tuscany as a ship builder and cartographer, and it was here that he set to work compiling his masterpiece, Dell'Arcano del Mare [Of the Mysteries of the Seas]. This grand sea chart atlas was the first to cover the entire known world, the first to be published by an Englishman, and the first to use the Mercator projection.

Dudley himself was a talented sailor and navigator having led a voyage of discovery to Guiana in 1594 at the age of 20. Along the way he captured several Spanish vessels and returned home with a large amount of booty which earned him a degree of royal favour. He was close friends with the privateer and explorer Sir Walter Raleigh and related by marriage to Sir Thomas Cavendish. Both men contributed valuable information to the atlas from their voyages of discovery and circumnavigations. Dudley finally published the first edition of his atlas in 1646 at the age of 73 after 20 years of preparation. Engraving the copper plates alone is thought to have taken 12 years and over 5,000lbs of copper, making it a monumental achievement.

The subtle rococo beauty of the maps, engraved in Tuscany by Antonio Lucini, and the wealth of (relatively accurate) information contained with the atlas, make Dudley's charts some of the most sought-after to modern collectors.

Sold as a pair. [SAM2990]