TITLE: Ambassadors' Globe

DATE: ca. 1530

AUTHOR: annonymous

DESCRIPTION: At one time this set of twelve woodcut globe gores on two sheets was erroneously thought to comprise Johannes Schöner's lost globe of 1523. However, on comparative grounds these gores can now be identified as those of a globe known as the 'Ambassadors' Globe', so-called because a similar globe appears in the important oil painting 'The Ambassadors' by Hans Holbein the Younger dating from 1533. Copies of the complete globes, 18.5 cm in diameter can be found in Yale University, the Maritime Museum (Greenwich) and in Nordenskiöld's Collection in Helsinki. A.D. Baynes-Cope has concluded through a study of the physical evidence (paper, glue, etc.) that these copies have been made up from facsimile sheets published by the Munich bookseller Ludwig Rosenthal in the 1880s. Some doubts as to the provenance of the unique copy of gores in sheet form have likewise arisen. On watermark grounds these two sheets, in the New York Public Library, appears to be pulls on paper dating from 1556-1560.

The continents on the gore map are somewhate crudely drawn with little interior detail other than general place-names. The shape of North America is nevertheless of interest because of a broad channel of water that connects the northern Pacific and Atlantic oceans, a feature perhaps based upon a lost Verrazanean prototype (Slide #333). THe globes made from these gores naturally show the same stretch of water, but the same channel cannot be identified on the globe shown in the Holbein painting. The origin of the large lake marked Senotormus in the middle of North America is not clear. It could be based upon distorted accounts of the inland lakes, or possibly is a misplaced and enlarged rendering of the lake city of Temistitan (present-day Mexico City). Magellan's route around the world is traced on the gores, and to the south an incomplete antarctic continent is broken up into islands.

The source used by the author of the gores seems to have been Maximilian Transsylvanus' De Moluccis Insulis (Cologne, 1523) and there are mistakes in the nomenclature which one would not expect to find beyond the end of the decade. On these grounds Dr Helen Wallis suggests that the gores may possibly have been prepared as early as ca. 1525. Nordenskiöld suggested that the gores might be the work of Georg Hartmann, maker of globes and cosmographical instruments in Nuremberg. However, the gores bearing Hartmann's name (Slide #338.2) are noticably different.

Location: New York Public Library

Size: 28.5 x 57 cm


*Baynes-Cope, A.D., "The Investigation of a Group of Globes", IMago Mundi 33

*Fite, E. & A. Freeman, A Book of Old Maps. . ., pp. 41-43, #11

Harrisse, H., The Discovery of North America, pp. 519-528, No. 147

*Nordenskiöld, A.E., Facsimile Atlas, p. 82, Plate XL

*Shirley, R.W., The Mapping of the World, pp. 66-68, n. 62, PLate 57

*Stevenson, E.L., Terrestrial and Celestrial Globes, vol.I, pp. 87-88, Figure 44a



Index of Renaissance Maps