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.
and#8220;There can be no better recommendation for the interest and authority shown throughout the pages of [this] book.and#8221;
and#8220;This book is a joy to read, as well as a joy to look at: it is a rare combination of visual beauty and intellectual insight.and#8221;
andldquo;Even as a handful of Europeans set out in the sixteenth century to explore the world, millions more stayed home and experienced it vicariously. Worldly Consumers is an ingenious study of how and why ordinary people began to buy maps at unprecedented rates. These Renaissance maps may have represented the globe and its territories in a new and andlsquo;rationalandrsquo; way, but, as Carlton shows, they remained loaded with meaning. Maps were more than tools of state policy; they also became objects of consumer delight and display. Her exacting studyandmdash;based on a subtle reading of new evidence from Venice and Florenceandmdash;shows how Europeans embraced these more accurate pictures of the world to fashion more motile identities for themselves. With Worldly Consumers, Carlton opens our eyes to the new world that materialized at home.andrdquo;
and#160;andldquo;Worldly Consumers is very significant contribution to the history of the transformation of cartography in early modern Europe. By studying household inventories drawn up at the time and books advising on the display of art, Carlton successfully illuminates the roles that maps played in the public self-fashioning of Venetian and Florentine householders. One of the great strengths of the book is Carltonandrsquo;s handling of the religious meanings in cartography throughout her entire period: she presents the importance of maps for showing creation, unveiling the structure of the cosmos, and provoking awe and wonder in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries better than any previous scholar.andrdquo;and#160;
andldquo;Worldly Consumers concentrates on Venice and Florence, the major centers for the production and distribution of maps and where the strongest documentary evidence survives. Carltonandrsquo;s strength is her detailed and accurate examination of her fascinating primary sourcesandmdash;the inventories of Venetian and Florentine houses, which she uses to document the existence of maps in the domestic setting as well as, whenever possible, their location and display within the house. Through a careful reading of these inventories and the computation of the information derived from them, Carlton is able to examine in detail how many households displayed maps, what these maps roughly represented, where they were displayed, and how these elements contributed to identity construction. Worldly Consumers is a solid contribution to the broader understanding of Renaissance culture, successfully establishing that the consumption of maps was part and parcel of the demand for goods in Renaissance Italy and how maps participated in the self-fashioning of their owners.andrdquo;
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.