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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Atlas of the Day: Dell'arcano del Mare. Sir Robert Dudley (1574-1649)

6 parts in 3 volumes. Folio (21 4/8 x 17 inches). 4 half-titles, 4 printed title-pages with engraved vignettes, folding engraved plate of the author's patent of nobility, 220 fine engraved plates, of which 70 are double-page and 85 half-page, and 72 have volvelles or movable parts, one engraving in the text, 146 fine engraved charts, of which 88 are double-page (without the 2-page advertisement to book 3, some occasional staining or offsetting, the plates and charts in volumes I and II remargined to match the size of volume III). Modern natural gilt paneled niger, the spine decorated in compartments with Pease family crests, all edges gilt. Provenance: Nico Israel, Amsterdam, 11 June 1975; Christopher Henry Beaumont Pease, Lord Wardington (1924-2005), his sale Library of Important Atlases and Geographies, 18th October 2005, lot 147. THE FIRST ENGLISH NAUTICAL ATLAS AND THE FIRST MARITIME ATLAS TO USE THE MERCATOR PROJECTION First edition. Robert Dudley's "Secrets of the Sea" is "ONE OF THE GREATEST ATLASES OF THE WORLD and one of the most complex ever produced: it is the first sea-atlas of the whole world; the first with all the charts constructed using Mercator's new projection, as corrected by Edward Wright; the first to give magnetic declination; the first to give prevailing winds and currents. the first to expound the advantages of "Great Circle Sailing"; and . the first sea-atlas to be compiled by an Englishman." (Lord Wardington). Dudley's monumental work was the only exception to the total dominance of sea-atlas production by the Dutch for nearly a century. The complete work contained nearly 150 sea charts as well as dozens of illustrations and working diagrams. It was superior to any previous work in that the charts illustrated the whole world, the first time any outside of Europe had been included. His atlas was also the first to importantly show the prevailing winds, currents and magnetic deviation. In using the projection developed by Mercator, Dudley improved upon the theory of navigating by the "Great Circle," the shortest distance between two points on a globe. It was not until the eighteenth century that cartographers used the projection consistently, and during the prolonged period when the Dutch dominated cartographic production, not one atlas was published using it. This magnificently engraved work is an encyclopedia of seventeenth-century knowledge regarding the seas. Dudley was one of the more colorful and adventurous characters in the history of mapmaking. The illegitimate son of the Earl of Leicester and Lady Douglas Sheffield, but unable to establish his claim to the title of Earl of Leicester, Dudley left England in 1605. Arriving in Florence, Dudley entered the service of the Cosimo II, Grand Duke of Tuscany, as an engineer and naval commander. In 1646, Dudley published "Arcano del mare", the whole written in Italian by Dudley himself. The atlas was twelve years in the making, and the main innovation lay in its conception of a world atlas of charts, both general ocean charts and detailed surveys, covering all the rival spheres of European dominion: Spanish, English and Dutch. Dudley's sources included the original charts of Henry Hudson, and for the Pacific coast he used the observations of Henry Cavendish, the third circumnavigator of the globe and Dudley's brother-in-law. From the distinguished library of Lord Wardington, whose collection of Atlases was unique: "a panoply of the history of cartography and of great mapmakers" (Andrew Phillips "An Appreciation", Sotheby's sale catalogue). Lloyd Arnold Brown, The World Encompassed, exh. cat. (Baltimore, 1952), n. 190; Philip D. Burden, The Mapping of North America: A List of Printed Maps 1511-1670 (Rickmansworth, 1996), 338-41, 349


Offered at $950,000. To inquire, please email info@aradernyc.com or call our 72nd Street NYC gallery at (212) 628-3668. 

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