SANDRART, Jacob von (1630-1708) engraved by Johann Baptist HOMMAN (1663-1724)
[Africa] Accuratissima Totius Africae Tabula in Lucem Producia Per Tacobum de Sandrart Norimbergae.
Nuremburg: J. von Sandart, 1675. Copper engraving with early colour. Printed on laid paper. Title in manuscript ink on verso of sheet. Cleveland Historical Society collection stamp on verso of sheet. Numerous tears and creases in outside margins, which have been expertly repaired. Center fold has been strengthened. Sheet size: 20 ½ x 24 ½ inches. Plate mark: 19 ¼ x 22 ¾ inches.
An early map of Africa by the great mapmaker Jacob von Sandrart, engraved by Homann.
Sandrart's stunning map of Africa is a close copy of Fredrik de Wit's map, 'Nova Africa Descriptio' published in 1660. With the prime meridian running through Ferro Island, the map is typical of late seventeenth century maps of Africa. Like other maps of the period, Sandrart has included a highly decorative and informative cartouche in the lower left corner of the sheet. Homann's continental cartouches aspired to convey the natural history as well as the costume and manner of life of the human inhabitants. Here, while a woman peacefully nurses her baby in a hammock, a native chief stares out at the viewer from under the shade of a large umbrella. On the right side of the vignette, two riders on horseback, one with a cutlass and one with a decaptitated head, ride by a river where one man is attacking another with his sword. Among the humans are a lion, a snake, a reptile of some sort and another fox-like animal. Although the map repeats De Wit's decorations, it relies on Ptolemy for its description of the Nile basin. It is to some degree remarkable that seventeenth century maps of the interior of Africa were filled with geographical features and named locations, since there had been very little European exploration of the interior at this date. European trade took place at specific locations along the coast and almost nothing was known about the interior of the dark continent except through rumor. This is a fascinating map by Sandrart and one of only two maps engraved by Homann before 1690. Born at Frankfurt-on-Main, Jacob von Sandrart was one of the most esteemed mapmakers in Nuremberg at the close of the seventeenth century. He learned his trade from his uncle Joachim von Sandrart and from Cornelius Danckerts. As with this impressive map, all of Sandrart's charts are filled with a wealth of decorative details and highly ornate cartouches.