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the first printed map of the Holy Land & the first modern printed map

(HOLY LAND.) [BRANDIS, LUCAS.]. Map of the Holy Land

[Lübeck: Brandis, from Brandis’s Rudimentum Novitiorum sive Chronicarum Historiarum Epitome, 1475]

Printed on two woodblocks, with heading Cedar et tabernacle eius Aras wecha unde baldach in Job. Approx. 22 x 15 inches. Expert restoration. Contemporary coloring. A very rare survival.

First edition of the first modern printed map. This landmark of cartography is “the earliest modern printed map” (Campbell), preceded only by Isidore’s simple T-O schematic diagram (1472-3) and simultaneous with the world map based on ancient sources, also printed by Brandis in 1475. Printed just two decades after the Gutenberg Bible, this map precedes the first published atlas (Bologna, 1477) by two years.

This is the first printed map of the Holy Land. This map presents a bird’s-eye view of the Holy Land oriented with the east at the top, the walled city of Jerusalem dominating the center, Sidon and Damascus in the north, the Red Sea in the south, and Egypt and Gaza in the lower right. Various Biblical scenes are depicted including Moses on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments, God appearing before him in the burning bush, and Pharaoh’s men drowning in the Red Sea. Eight heads around the periphery represent the winds and compass directions. The geographical information was derived from a now-lost manuscript map made in the 13th century by Burchard of Mt. Sion, a Dominican pilgrim.

“The map by Brandis de Schass bears very little resemblance to previous treatments of this subject and therefore remains a singular document, an extraordinary relic in the cartographic history of the Holy Land. One of the deepest implications of the notion of “holy place” in mythology and theology is that it is the center of the world. The axis mundi, that pivot through which, according to various beliefs, heaven and the underworld are connected, is the center from which the universe evolved. According to Jewish tradition, this axis passes through Jerusalem, where the Foundation Stone (on which the entire world rests) and the Holy of Holies are to be found, and where man was first created. The absolute holiness of Jerusalem and the Jewish and Christian notion that it is the ‘navel of the world’ is thus also expressed in the art of cartography” (Israel Museum).

One of the rarest and most sought after early printed maps, this is perhaps the most desirable of all Holy Land maps.

Laor, Maps of the Holy Land, 128. Campbell, The Early Printed Maps 1472-1500, 214.