Lecture / Reading

Chet Van Duzer on Portraying the World Anew: Martin Waldseemüller's Carta marina of 1516

Sponsored by Stanford University Libraries, David Rumsey Map Center


Friday, May 8, 2020
3:00 pm – 5:00 pm
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This live talk will be held online via Zoom.

Martin Waldseemüller created two large world maps in 1507 and 1516, just nine years apart, but the two maps could not be more different: while the 1507 map is based on Ptolemy, in his 1516 Carta marina he sets aside the Ptolemaic model and adapts that of nautical charts instead. Moreover, the cartographer abandons almost all of the sources he used in creating his 1507 map, and undertook detailed research in contemporary geographical texts and maps for the details he wanted for his new map.

We have very little information about the workshop practices of early sixteenth-century cartographers—about how they created their maps. Waldseemüller’s Carta marina of 1516 offers a rare opportunity to obtain just this sort of information. By examining the cartographer’s sources, both cartographic and textual, as well as how he used those sources, we can reconstruct how he went about creating this magnificent map, and gain a unique and unprecedented view of an early modern cartographer at work. The talk also includes evidence regarding the diffusion of the Carta marina.

Van Duzer has just published a book about his research: Martin Waldseemüller’s Carta marina of 1516: Study and Transcription of the Long Legends (New York: Springer, 2020).

Chet Van Duzer is an independent American historian of cartography specializing in medieval and Renaissance maps — mappaemundi, nautical charts, and the maps in Ptolemy's Geography — with an emphasis on determining the sources that cartographers used for the texts, images, and geographical features on maps. He is also a board member of the Lazarus Project at the University of Rochester, which brings multispectral imaging to cultural institutions around the world. 

3:00pm PDT - Zoom opens
3:15-4:15pm PDT - Talk by Chet Van Duzer, followed by Q&A

This talk is hosted by the David Rumsey Map Center.