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Magnificent Maps: Power, Propaganda and Artby Peter Barber
Synopses & Reviews
Maps are often as much a visual art form as they are a practical tool for navigation. Of particular visual interest are display mapsand#8212;maps that often used size and beauty to convey messages of regional and social status and power. Despite their historical significance, many of these display maps have been lost and destroyed over time. Magnificent Maps brings together the best surviving examples in order to illustrate their role in early modern Europe and describe the settings in which they were displayed.
and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160; Most of the maps collected in Magnificent Maps date from the period 1450 to 1800, the heyday of this approach to mapping. During their time, these maps were displayed in a range of settings, from palaces to schoolrooms to bedchambers, and Peter Barber and Tom Harper here offer vivid descriptions of their original settings and examine their dual roles as propaganda and art.
Drawn from one of the greatest collections in the world at the British Library, many of these maps will be completely new even to experts. The unusual aspect of cartography presented in Magnificent Maps will appeal to collectors, historians, mapmakers and users, as well as anyone curious about the many ways we have come to illustrate and define our world.
Though the practical value of maps during the sixteenth century is well documented, their personal and cultural importance has been relatively underexamined. In Worldly Consumers, Genevieve Carlton explores the growing availability of maps to private consumers during the Italian Renaissance and shows how map acquisition and display became central tools for constructing personal identity and impressing oneand#8217;s peers.
Drawing on a variety of sixteenth-century sources, including household inventories, epigrams, dedications, catalogs, travel books, and advice manuals, Worldly Consumers studies how individuals displayed different maps in their homes as deliberate acts of self-fashioning. One citizen decorated with maps of Bruges, Holland, Flanders, and Amsterdam to remind visitors of his military prowess, for example, while another hung maps of cities where his ancestors fought or governed, in homage to his auspicious family history. Renaissance Italians turned domestic spaces into a microcosm of larger geographical places to craft cosmopolitan, erudite identities for themselves, creating a new class of consumers who drew cultural capital from maps of the time.
About the Author
Peter Barber is head of map collections at the British Library. He is the author of many bestselling and critically acclaimed books on the history of maps and mapmaking, including Tales from the Map Room, Lie of the Land, and The Map Book.
Tom Harper is curator of antiquarian mapping at the British Library.
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