TITLE: Salviati Planisphere

DATE: 1525/26

AUTHOR: Nuno Garcia de Toreno [?]

DESCRIPTION: This large (205 x 93 cm/80.7 x 36.6 in) colored drawing manuscript planisphere on parchment was produced in Seville, Spain around 1525-1526. It is drawn in the style of the sea-charts known as portolanos, with at least twenty-two compass roses with radiating navigational lines, and only coastal settlements identified. The name of this decorative map is derived from its first owner, Cardinal Salviati, the papal nuncio to Spain from 1525-30. Geographically it displays the known world in a typical western European perspective, showing only the eastern coasts of North and South America. No attempt is made to indicate the western expanse of either landmass, nor is there any real speculation of the proximity of the new discoveries to the Asian continent. In fact the dipiction of Asia east of India is very undeveloped, with no eastern coastline shown and no indication of the islands of Japan. North and South America are shown to be connected from Labrador in the north to the Straits of Magellan in the south. The currency of this map is illustrated by the place-names proposed by the discoveries from the voyage by Estavão Gomes in 1525 along current-day North Carolina and Maryland's Chesapeake Bay which are also included.

Based upon the style and decoration employed on this map, it is thought by some scholars to be the work of Nuno Garcia de Toreno, once the head of the Casa de la Contratacion, the ministry in Seville that was responsible for all of the commercial and scientific matters relating to the new discoveries. It will be noticed that there are considerable similarities between this map and a planisphere in the Archivio Marchesi Castiglioni in Mantua produced in 1525 by the Portuguese cartographer Diogo Ribeiro, de Toreno's successor in the Casa de la Contratacion. The map is very colorful with the Red Sea shown in that color, and the major old world bodies of water shown in blue (the Persian Gulf, the Baltic, Black and Caspian Seas). There are also drawings of trees, mountains, animals (only in the new discoveries), castellated towns (in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa) and even colorful tents to represent settlements in Africa.


Location: Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Florence, Italy

Size: 205 x 93 cm; 80.7 x 36.6 inches


*Wolff, Hans (ed.), America, Early Maps of the New World, pp. 48-49, #67

Index of Renaissance Maps