Suzanne Boorsch on Francesco Berlinghieri’s Geographia – Mondays at Beinecke, November 14, 2022

Beinecke Library at Yale – Nov 21, 2022

Suzanne Boorsch, an art historian who specializes in Renaissance old master prints and the former curator of prints and drawings at the Yale University Art Gallery, discusses Francesco Berlinghieri’s Geographia, Florence, 1482, in conjunction with the Beinecke Library exhibition, The World in Maps, 1400-1600. Building on the work of authors such as Ptolemy, Francesco Berlinghieri (1440–1501) compiled his Geographia in the last decades of the fifteenth century. With a commentary in verse, Geographia contains a number of additional maps, expanding the traditional repertoire of Ptolemy’s work. This particular volume includes thirty-one maps, many of which fold out to reveal detailed visions of various parts of the world. This map, for example, covers much of Europe (EVROP), northern Africa (APHRICA), and western Asia. Along the bottom of the map, a section is labeled TERRA INCOGNITA, or “unknown land.” Because this map represents a great deal of area of which the mapmaker had little or no knowledge, a number of unusual geographic features are essentially imaginary. For example, large, round lakes randomly dot northern Africa, and the Indian Ocean is hemmed in on all sides by coasts unfamiliar to the Italian draftsman.

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