Benincasa, Andrea (fl. 1476-1508)
This portolan by Andrea Benincasa is signed and dated 1476 on the last chart, which is glued to the inside back cover. The five nautical charts, each occupying a double page of the atlas, describe the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea (chart 1), the coasts between Sicily and the Aegean Sea (chart 2), the Mediterranean Sea from Gibraltar to Rome with Corsica and Sardinia (chart 3), the coasts of the Atlantic between England and Ireland to the Strait of Gibraltar (chart 4), and finally the coasts between Gibraltar and Cape Bojador, including the Canary Islands and other islands (chart 5). The star-shaped rhumb lines with wind roses indicate the compass directions, while the scales, here marked in the corners of the leaves, make it possible to estimate distances. The precise course of the coasts highlighted with color and the elegant script of the toponyms are characteristic of maps from the Benincasa studio, which were intended as objects for book lovers, but not for navigation. Among the numerous inscriptions on these maps, those on the Atlantic islands are the most surprising, as they seem to anticipate the discovery of the American archipelago like “Antilia,” or the island of “Brazil”; these names were adopted by Christopher Columbus and his successors to name certain territories in the New World.
Online Since: 12/12/2019