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A Rare, Early Chart of the Coast of Greenland

Greenland. DUDLEY, R. [Florence, 1646]
Carta particolare della Gronlandia Orientale. 29 ½ x 18 ¼ inches
Mended corner outside image, else excellent.


First state of Robert Dudley’s rare, beautiful chart of the eastern coast of Greenland. It was published in Dudley’s Arcano de Mare, one of the most strikingly beautiful works of maritime cartography ever produced and the first sea atlas by an Englishman. “It was the first sea atlas in which every chart was based on Mercator’s projection, the first to show prevailing winds and currents in the main harbours and anchorages, the first to give magnetic declination, …” (Tooley). In this chart, Dudley not only used Mercator’s projection but the great 16th century geographer’s data as well. Dudley, as with any compiler of geographical information, faced difficulty in reconciling conflicting evidence in producing his maps; while he notes some features to have been recently discovered by the Dutch, this chart bears little resemblance to more up-to-date maps produced by Blaeu and Hondius. However, from the collector’s perspective, the somewhat outdated information presented is counterbalanced by the bravura calligraphy of Dudley’s engraver, Francesco Lucini.
One of the most colorful of early mapmakers, Dudley was the bastard son of the Earl of Leicester, paramour of Elizabeth I. Dudley expatriated to Florence, where he married a princess and provided valuable services to the Medicis.

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