By: Girolamo Ruscelli
Date: 1574 (published) Venice
Dimensions: 7.4 x 10.25 inches (18.8 x 26.04 cm) plate size
This important Ruscelli map of Hispaniola, from his work La Geografia di Claudio Tolomeo Alessandrino, is based on Gastaldi’s earlier map of the same region, dated 1548. Although the overall shape and orientation of the island are not entirely correct, many details are topographically accurate. Hispaniola is the second largest island in the West Indies, in the Greater Antilles of the Caribbean Sea. Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico are collectively known as the Greater Antilles. These islands are made up of continental rock, as distinct from the Lesser Antilles, which are mostly young volcanic or coral islands.
The island has five major mountain ranges, all of which are delineated in the map. Major river systems are shown, and all cities, towns, settlements, fortifications and ports are depicted. The waters surrounding the island are rendered in stipple. Some islands in close proximity to Hispaniola are in place. Christopher Columbus landed on Hispaniola on December 5, 1492 and named it La Isla Española, “The Spanish Island,” which was eventually Anglicized to Hispaniola. It is said that when he first laid eyes on its shores, he termed it “La Perle des Antilles”.
Hispaniola is the site of the first European settlement in the Americas, La Navidad (1492–1493), as well as the first proper town, La Isabela (1493–1500), and is also the first permanent settlement and current capital of the Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo dating to approximately 1498.
Girolamo Ruscelli (1500s-1566) was an Italian polymath, humanist, editor, and cartographer active in Venice during the early 16th century. Ruscelli is best known for his important revision of Ptolemy’s Geographia, published posthumously in 1574.
Condition: This map is in A condition with a strong impression on bright, clean paper and full margins on all sides.
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