The Restoration of de Wit's Map
"Nova Totius Terrarum Orbis Tabula"
The restored map of the Dutch geographer has returned to the IGMIin Florence

by Sandro Pintus

Another jewel has been restored. A jewel which takes us back in time, letting us dream of the journeys undertaken by the great 17th century navigators. An important reminder of the great era of travel when sailing ships ploughed the seas and oceans of the earth discovering distant lands and unknown worlds.

The restored map "Nova Totius Terrarum Orbis Tabula"
(photo courtesy IGMI)

What we're talking about is a famous geographical map, the "Nova Totius Terrarum Orbis Tabula", drawn up by Frederik de Wit, a unique document of its kind dated 1670, restored by Mrs Ravanel with the Borsa del Turismo Congressuale e Incentives (BTC) and returned to the Military Geographical Institute in Florence. It is a valuable document which leaves us astounded at the cartographical knowledge of the Dutch and especially that of de Wit.

In the 17th century, Holland was the country which boasted the greatest cartographical knowledge of the period and the printworks in Amsterdam confirmed the geographical culture of the Dutch. In 1648 de Wit founded Kalverstraat the publishers which he later passed on to his son and grandson. In fact, Frederik de Wit was the most prolific Dutch draughtsman of maps in the 17th century.

De Wit's printworks edited many atlases and one of his greatest works is that of Belgium published in 1680. He also produced a maritime atlas in 1675 made up of 27 maps and held to be one of the world's best descriptions of coastlines produced in Holland in the 17th century. Besides, he also drew up many other great wall maps.

The "Nova Totius Terrarum Orbis Tabula", a large format map measuring 123cm by 186cm is an incision on copper on 12 sheets joined together at intervals on canvas. The map which demonstrates the great artistic talent of the Dutch cartographers is divided into two hemispheres. There is the western hemisphere with the American continent where the North is only sketched because it hadn't yet been explored and the eastern hemisphere with Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. Distant peoples are illustrated in the corners and the distance chart lies between Magellan's Strait and New Zealand.

The work also includes a map of the North and South Poles, a map of the stars and the sphere indicating the movement of the planets according to the "Tychonica Hypothesis". This precious work will be put on display sometime during 1997 (the exact date is not yet known) alongside another map awaiting restoration.

See also:

©Florence ART News
Via Faentina, 127 - 50133 Florence, Italy
ph. +39 55 575488 - fax +39 55 587321
©Florence ART News - All rights reserved