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GASTALDI, Giacomo

fl. 1542-1565

The principal cartographer of the "Lafreri school" was Giacomo Gastaldi (fl. 1542-1565), a Piedmontese who worked in Venice, becoming Cosmographer to the Venetian Republic.  Karrow described him as "one of the most important cartographers of the sixteenth century. He was certainly the greatest Italian mapmaker of his age..." (2).
While his achievement is obvious, it is hard to quantify.  A large number of maps were published throughout this period with the geography credited to Gastaldi, but it is often difficult to know what role Gastaldi played in their creation.
As a practice, he did not sign himself as publisher, although his name may be found in the title, dedication, or text to the reader.  Frequently where there is no imprint one may assume that Gastaldi was the publisher.
A further clue may be that many of the maps attributable to Gastaldi as publisher seem to have been engraved by Fabius Licinius.

In other cases, where publication is credited to another, it is not always certain whether Gastaldi was commissioned by the publisher to compile the map, whether another less-enterprising publisher merely copied his work and attribution, or simply added Gastaldi's name in the title to add authority to the delineation. 

His name clearly commanded the same sort of respect that the Sanson name had in the last years of the seventeenth century, and as Guillaume de l'Isle's had in the first half of the eighteenth century.

Gastaldi's first published map was of Spain, engraved on four sheets, and issued in 1544.  The following year he published a map of Sicily, among the most widely copied of all his maps.  In the course of a prolific career, Gastaldi subsequently produced a number of maps of Italy, and individual parts of the peninsula, with his general map of Italy, and the map of Piedmont also being very influential.

Among the most important of his maps, however, were of areas outside Italy. Principal among these was his map of the World, published in 1546, a four sheet map of the countries of south-eastern Europe, published in 1559, and his series of three maps of the Middle East, Southern Asia, and South-East Asia with the Far East, issued between 1559 and 1561. In 1562, Gastaldi issued a two-sheet map of the Kingdom of Poland, and in 1564, a magnificent eight-sheet map of Africa.
In addition to this prolific output, Gastaldi also prepared the maps for the 1548, Venice, edition of Ptolemy's 'Geografia'. The modern map of Germany, which is dated 1542 in the title, is his earliest dated work, although it was not published until some six years later. 

Gastaldi had a close relationship with Giovanni Battista Ramusio, and it would seem likely that Gastaldi compiled the maps used in the latter's Delle Navigationi Et Viaggi (1550-1556) including maps of  Africa, the Middle East and Southern Asia, South-East Asia and the Far East, the Americas, New England and New France, West Africa and Sumatra. 

While Karrow also attributes the map of Hispaniola to Gastaldi, this map was printed from a block prepared for an edition of Peter the Martyr's Historia De L'Indie Occidentale (Venice, 1534), which is believed to have been edited by Ramusio.





Dictionary of map makers An illustrated list of makers of maps, charts and globes from the earliest time of cartography to present.

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