Leonardo's world map

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Modern recreation of Leonardo da Vinci's world map

Leonardo's unique equilateral triangular design is applied for a world map. It is a map drawn using the "octant projection" and dated by Richard Henry Major to approximately 1514. It was found loosely inserted among a Codex of Leonardo da Vinci. It features an early use of the name America. The map incorporates information from the travels of Amerigo Vespucci, published in 1503 and 1505.[1] Additionally, the map depicts the Arctic as an ocean and Antarctica as a continent of about the correct size.

The likelihood that the map, found among Leonardo da Vinci's papers preserved in Windsor, was drawn by Leonardo himself has not been completely accepted by scholars.[2] According to Major, who published the map in 1865 and defended its authenticity, the date indicated would be doubtful also because Florida is drawn as an island with the name of TERRA FLORIDA. In 2018 the Belgian scholar S. Missinne offered evidence that although the design of the manuscript map is without doubt based on Leonardo´s work, the geographical content is from the hand of a scholar of Leonardo.

Description

Da Vinci developed the concept of dividing the surface of the globe into eight spherical equilateral triangles based on his botanical drawings. Each section of the globe is bounded by the Equator and two meridians separate by 90°. This was the first map of this type.[3] Some critics believe that the existing map was not really an autograph work, since the precision and expertise in the drawing does not reflect the usual high standards of da Vinci. They suggest that it was probably done by a trusted employee or copyist at Leonardo's workshop. Da Vinci's authorship would be demonstrated by Christopher Tyler in his paper entitled "Leonardo da Vinci’s World Map",[3] in which he provides examples of derivative maps in a similar projection to da Vinci's. The map was originally documented by R. H. Major in his work Memoir on a mappemonde by Leonardo da Vinci, the earliest map Being Known hitherto container containing the name of America [1] Grothe.[4]

The eight triangles are configured as two four-leaf clovers side by side, with the earth poles in the center of each clove. One of the sides of the eight triangles (the one opposite the center of the pseudo clover), forms one fourth of the equator, the remaining two (those that converge to the center of the pseudo clover) forming the two meridians that, combined with the equator, dissect the globe into eight octants.

The name of "Florida" (Terra Florida), correctly placed opposite Cuba although in form of "an island", is used after the discovery of Florida in 1513 and the return of Ponce de Leon's expedition.[5]

Authorship

Leonardo's map authorship it is not universally accepted, with some authors being completely against any minimal contribution from him, either in the map or in the type of projection used; among them, Henry Harrisse (1892),[6] or Eugène Müntz (1899 - citing Harrisse authority from 1892).[7]

Since the discovery of the Da Vinci Globe in 2012, and published in 2018, Leonardo´s authorship of the design of the map has been confirmed. In contrast the cartographic content is by a third hand. ( ) The manuscript world map intended to be glued has been attributed to Melzi, because of the type of lettering used and because of his proximity to Leonardo during his stay in France. Missinne finds it difficult to substantiate this attribution. He argues that on the map, the capital letters and small letters are used in combination, which is contradictory to Leonardo´s costumery practice. In addition, an unhatched mountain range in South America, is depicted showing only one not particularly “attractive” river. Missinne argues that the precise level of detail, for which Leonardo was known, is lacking. In contrast, the maker drew many toponyms on the coastal ranges, which shows that he must have used a portolan map as a template. The oceans do bear names and the spelling has only a few “mistakes,” i.e. variants such as “Brazill” ending with a double “l.” The letter “z” on C (abo) B (ona) speranza differs considerably from Leonardo’s types of “z.” which is also the case for the “b” in “Abatia”.[8]

Several scholars prior to 2018 explicitly accept the authorship of both (map and projection: "..the eight of a supposed globe represented in a plane.."), completely as Leonardo's work, describing the octant projection as the first of this type, among them, R. H. Major (1865) in his work Memoir on a mappemonde by Leonardo da Vinci, being the earliest map hitherto known containing the name of America,[1] Grothe,[4] the "Enciclopedia universal ilustrada europeo-americana" (1934),[9] Snyder in his book Flattening the Earth (1993),[10] Christopher Tyler in his paper (2014) Leonardo da Vinci’s World Map,[3] José Luis Espejo in his book (2012) Los mensajes ocultos de Leonardo Da Vinci,[11] or David Bower in his work (2012) The unusual projection for one of John Dee's maps of 1580.[12]

Others also accept explicitly the authorship of both (the map and its projection) as authentic, although leaving open the question of Leonardo's direct hand, giving the authorship of the work to one of his disciples as Nordenskiöld states in his book Facsimile-Atlas (1889) confirmed by Dutton (1995) and many others: "..on account of the remarkable projection not by Leonardo himself, but by some ignorant clerk.",[13] or Keunig (1955) being more precise: "..by one of his followers at his direction.."[14]

Many scholars based their assumption on Leonardo´s using the Italian word “mappamondo” J.P. Richter translated this as world map instead of world globe. J.P. Richter’s erroneous translation from Arundel, page 191 recto, is: “The map of the world from Benci”.[15] The scholar Missinne states that the manuscript world map intended to be glued has been attributed to Melzi, because of the type of lettering used and because of his proximity to Leonardo during his stay in France. Missinne finds it difficult to substantiate this attribution. He argues that on the map, the capital letters and small letters are used in combination, which is contradictory to Leonardo´s costumery practice. In addition, an unhatched mountain range in South America, is depicted showing only one not particularly “attractive” river. Missinne argues that the precise level of detail, for which Leonardo was known, is lacking. In contrast, the maker drew many toponyms on the coastal ranges, which shows that he must have used a portolan map as a template. The oceans do bear names and the spelling has only a few “mistakes,” i.e. variants such as “Brazill” ending with a double “l.” The letter “z” on C (abo) B (ona) speranza differs considerably from Leonardo’s types of “z.” which is also the case for the “b”in “Abatia.” On the map, Italia is spelled “ITTALIA“ with 2 “T”.[16] Since the discovery of the da Vinci Globe in 2012, and published in 2018, Leonardo´s authorship of the design of the map has been confirmed. In contrast the cartographic content is by a third hand[17]

Leonardo da Vinci's world map in eight Reuleaux triangle octants

See also

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Major, Richard Henry (1865) (pdf). Memoir on a mappemonde by Leonardo da Vinci, being the earliest map hitherto known containing the name of America, now in the Royal Collection at Windsor.. London: J.B. Nicholls and Sons. https://archive.org/details/cu31924029955550. Retrieved 21 March 2015. 
  2. Muntz, p. 317.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Tyler, Christopher. Leonardo da Vinci's World Map. http://www.cosmosandhistory.org/index.php/journal/article/view/594. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Grothe, Hermann (1874) (pdf). Leonardo da Vinci als Ingenieur and Philosoph. Berlin: Berlin: Nicolaische. https://archive.org/details/leonardodavincia00grot. Retrieved 20 September 2015. 
  5. Emerson David Fite; Archibald Freeman (1926). A Book of Old Maps: Delineating American History from the Earliest Days Down to the Close of the Revolutionary War. Arno Press. https://books.google.com/?id=3fjtAAAAMAAJ&q=La+florida,+correctly+placed+on+the+island+opposite+Cuba,+was+probably+used+for+the+first+time+on+the+globe+of+Leonardo+da+Vinci+about+1+5+1+5,+two+years+after+Ponce+de+Leon%27s+expedition+to+Florida&dq=La+florida,+correctly+placed+on+the+island+opposite+Cuba,+was+probably+used+for+the+first+time+on+the+globe+of+Leonardo+da+Vinci+about+1+5+1+5,+two+years+after+Ponce+de+Leon%27s+expedition+to+Florida. 
  6. Henry Harrisse (1872). Bibliotheca Americana Vetustissima: A Description of Works Relating to America Published Between the Years 1492 and 1551. Librairie Tross. https://books.google.com/?id=LSlZAAAAcAAJ. 
  7. Eugène Müntz (8 May 2012). Leonardo da Vinci. Parkstone International. pp. 97–. ISBN 978-1-78160-387-1. https://books.google.com/?id=cbPbWHDtU1sC&pg=PA97&lpg=PA97&dq=Ximenes+had+developed+a+letter+of+Leonardo+to+Christopher+Columbus+from+1473#v=onepage. 
  8. S. Missinne, The Da Vinci Globe, Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2018, p. 215 (ISBN978-1-5275-2614-3), p. 219.
  9. Enciclopedia universal ilustrada europeo-americana:"..así el mapa de leonardo en ocho segmentos estaba destinado a un globo..". J. Espasa. 1934. https://books.google.com/?id=qgQjAQAAMAAJ&q=as%C3%AD+el+mapa+de+leonardo+en+ocho+segmentos+estaba+destinado+a+un+globo&dq=as%C3%AD+el+mapa+de+leonardo+en+ocho+segmentos+estaba+destinado+a+un+globo. 
  10. Snyder, John P. (1997). Flattening the Earth: Two Thousand Years of Map Projections. University of Chicago Press. p. 40. ISBN 978-0-226-76747-5. https://books.google.com/?id=0UzjTJ4w9yEC&pg=PA40. 
  11. Google-Books: José Luis Espejo Pérez (2012). Los mensajes ocultos de Leonardo Da Vinci. Editorial Base. pp. 60–67. ISBN 978-84-15706-00-7. https://books.google.com/?id=q6aqNAEACAAJ. 
  12. Bower, David I. (February 2012), "The unusual projection for one of John Dee's maps of 1580", The Cartographic Journal 49 (1): 55–61, doi:10.1179/1743277411y.0000000015, http://dibower.co.uk/data/documents/Dee-projn-paper.pdf .
  13. Geoffrey H. Dutton (1999). A Hierarchical Coordinate System for Geoprocessing and Cartography. Springer. ISBN 978-3-540-64980-9. https://books.google.com/?id=5VLuAAAAMAAJ&q=nordenskjold+It+is,+however,+worthy+of+attention+from+a+cartographical+point+of+view,+not+merely+on+account+of+the+remarkable+projection&dq=nordenskjold+It+is,+however,+worthy+of+attention+from+a+cartographical+point+of+view,+not+merely+on+account+of+the+remarkable+projection. 
  14. Keuning, Johannes (January 1955), "The history of geographical map projections until 1600", Imago Mundi 12 (1): 1–24, doi:10.1080/03085695508592085 .
  15. S. Missinne, The Da Vinci Globe, Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2018, p. 215 (ISBN978-1-5275-2614-3).
  16. Ibid., p. 219.
  17. Ibid.

External links