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Anonymous works and the question of their attribution
to individual chartmakers or to their supposed workshops

Mounted on the web 7 March 2011 – additions and corrections are noted in the appropriate place with a dated statement starting {
which can be searched for

Tables of signed, attributed, anonymous and workshop productions (a Microsoft Word document)
Summary table of the features analysed (a Microsoft Word document)

Colour & Shape Analysis Menu   |  Portolan Charts Main Menu

For the full details of the works mentioned below see the Bibliography



This page starts with an extended discussion of the highly uncertain concept of chartmaking workshops, focusing in some detail on the replication process. That sets the scene for individual entries – some perfunctory, some in-depth – of 52 charts and atlases whose authorship is either unknown, a matter of debate or generally agreed.

This prints out to about 55 pages


Conclusions drawn from the various Attributions pages



Summary of the conclusions
The importance of unsigned charts


What is meant by an atelier?
The Vallseca contract of 1433
How would the productions of an atelier be different from those of the master himself?
Stages in the construction of a chart
           Likely copying method(s)
           Bianco's "London" chart of 1448 {added April 2011}
           The elements that make up a portolan chart
           The detailed production stages
Traces of master/apprentice relationships
Venetian practice
To sign or not to sign?
Copies and imitations



How to use these entries

Earliest Italian works [1-2]
Vesconte [3-4]
BL.Add.27376* [4]

First quarter [5]
Second quarter [6-9]

Dulceti [10]
Mid-14th [11]
Cresques workshop [12-17]

Venetian (late 14th-early 15th century) [18-22]


A note on the Cornaro Atlas

Virga [23]
Early 15th [24-5]
Cesanis [26-7]
Venetian (second quarter) [28-32]
Ziroldi [33-6]
Italian (second quarter) [37-42]
     Medici Atlas [37]
Benincasa [43-5]

Vallseca [46-7]
R.Soler [48]
Roselli [49-51]
Catalan Estense world map [51a]

Arabic [52]


[NB these are Microsoft Word documents]

1. Contents of the Cornaro Atlas

2. The treatment of pinea

3. Comparing the colour and style of three charts attributed
        to a Roselli workshop with his signed productions
4. Features on charts signed by or attributed to Roselli


These notes are based on the Colour & Shape Analysis (C&SA), which considered every legible scan on the DVD accompanying Ramon Pujades's Les cartes portolanes (2007), most of them at a resolution sufficient to read the place-names and the other small details that are not legible from a normal book illustration. This investigation would have been impossible without that invaluable resource.

It is also appropriate to pay tribute here to the pioneering work carried out by Pujades in the systematic re-dating of a number of the unsigned works – in the case of the chart in the Riccardiana Library in Florence, rescuing it from the obscurity of the '15th century' and demonstrating that it is actually one of the earliest survivors. By refining the approximate dates of many anonymous surviving productions, and by removing most of the doubts about their place of origin, Pujades has brought these fully into portolan chart discussion for the first time. Previously, unsigned works, if mentioned at all, were (with a few exceptions) treated as no more than footnotes. Instead, Pujades took great care to place each into its proper context.

The C&SA tables follow his suggested datings and decisions about where the works were produced, even if the new findings challenge a few of his attributions of authorship. However, those occasional differences of opinion may reflect no more than a disagreement about how the signed work of a master might be distinguished from that produced in a hypothetical atelier, or the difference between the supervised work of assistants and an unauthorised copy.

The C&SA, by looking at 51 lesser (even minute) features, such as the colour or shape of smaller islands and river estuaries (noting in all about 100 elements), revealed patterns that throw valuable light on the consistency (or lack of it) within a particular practitioner's work, between him and those working in the same city, and between the three main early chartmaking centres of Genoa, Majorca and Venice.

It is well known that we must have lost the vast majority of original charts; we must also have lost the work of many chartmakers. Of perhaps 39 master practitioners recorded for the period up to 1469, five are known by name but not by any surviving work (Rafel Loret, Rafel Monells, Agostino da Noli, Gabriel and Joan Soler), and 12 by a single production.

By providing strong grounds for confirming that anonymous charts are not by any of those whose signed work has survived, nor, usually, by the authors of other unsigned works, it has proved possible significantly to increase the number of unknown practitioners. It is the contention of this analysis that the work of perhaps 26 unnamed chartmakers survives in the form of 30 unattributed works, where Pujades had referred to 'ten or so' individuals (p.487a). The confirmation of the existence of these additional practitioners opens a small chink in the curtain that largely obscures the workings of the chartmaking craft, which has left us a fragmentary legacy through the accidental survival of just a few productions.

An attempt was made to understand what Pujades meant by the concept of a chartmaking workshop, since he attributed a number of charts to the 'ateliers' of known chartmakers (as well as two atlases to Vesconte). It is here argued that the productions signed by a master who was assisted by family member(s) or apprentice(s) would match his own style as consistently as if he was working alone. Probably the only way to tell if the master was being assisted by others would be if different hands are discernible in the place-names.

The charts of Vallseca do indeed reveal several different hands, which fits in with Pujades's contention that these were the products of a workshop comprising a number of fully-trained practitioners. The C&SA data supports the visible evidence of that kind of 'atelier'. On the other hand, it seems likely that the supposed 'Cresques atelier' may have been little more than the usual, small-scale family operation, lasting about two generations, involving various members of the Cresques family (none of whom signed their work) aided by a few successive apprentices. However, although in the Tables of signed, attributed, anonymous and workshop productions (a Microsoft Word document) six works are, following Pujades, attributed to such a Cresques atelier, the C&SA evidence does not show those charts to be particularly consistent or notably distinct, in terms of colour and shape, from those of a contemporary, Guillem Soler.

Otherwise, the productions of hypothetical ateliers have here been distributed to the named master himself, working with or without assistants/apprentices (Vesconte, Dulceti, Rafel Soler, Ziroldi, Roselli and Benincasa). Alternatively, they have been redesignated as the work of otherwise unknown practitioners, possibly unauthorised copyists.

Most of the recent research in this field has been carried out by Catalan scholars. Less has been done on Genoese practitioners – highly important in the early period but only spasmodically represented afterwards.

The C&SA's data on the large number of Venetian works from the 15th century, about half of them anonymous, suggests different working methods might have operated in that city, conceivably along some kind of co-operative lines, but probably not state-sponsored.

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Works without a signature (or at least without a surviving one) represent 42% of those charts and atlases that are dateable up to 1469 (Pujades's cut-off date). 68 are signed, and 50 not. Coincidentally, this exactly matches Astengo's calculation that about 40% of 16th and 17th century works are unsigned (2007(a) p.190) {this sentence added 12 September 2011}. [For the figures, see Table C in Tables of signed, attributed, anonymous and workshop productions (a Microsoft Word document).]

Some of the anonymous works are less ornate than the signed productions, which is a large part of the reason they have been ignored. One or two can perhaps be identified as examples of the cheap functional charts of which there might have been a hundred times as many produced as of the ornate and expensive varieties. Designed for practical use at sea and not for display at home, it could be argued that they are of even greater historical importance. [See further What is the difference between a plain and a de luxe chart.]

The C&SA had three main aims: to test how consistent an individual chartmaker was in his treatment of the sample features considered, to compare his 'visual profile' with that of others, and to see if this could help corroborate the attributions of unsigned works according to Pujades. The findings from that exercise are summarised in Table B in Tables of signed, attributed, anonymous and workshop productions (a Microsoft Word document) and discussed in detail below.

In 2007, Pujades had concluded that 'The number of known producers of nautical charts stands at only just over three dozen. Although, needless to say, we should add a few anonymous cartographers (ten or so whose unsigned work has come down to us in part, and others who have left no traces of any kind)' (p.487a). However, one unexpected result of the present analysis has been to confirm (at least in my opinion) the existence of perhaps twenty-six unknown chartmakers working in the period up to 1469, alongside the 39 whose names were already known to us [see Tables A & B in Tables of signed, attributed, anonymous and workshop productions (a Microsoft Word document)].

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Just what does atelier/taller/workshop mean in the context of 14th- and 15th-century chartmaking? There is almost no direct historical evidence, beyond details of a few apprenticeship contracts. These may indicate in general terms what the boy would be taught but, as would be expected, give no details about working methods, in other words about the metier or 'mystery' of chartmaking.

There may have been one or more generations of practitioners before Vesconte but we cannot assume he had been an apprentice himself (presumably in Genoa) and later had his own apprentices in Venice. Nor, if he did, is it certain that he had already devised the complex procedures necessary to coordinate the sequence of operations (requiring several different skills) that went into the production of a finished work [see Stages in the construction of a chart]. Any more than we can assume that the management of a chartmaking workshop was constant through time and in the different production centres, or between individuals.

Since it seems we have surviving apprentice records only for Catalan chartmakers, and since a number of the Catalan masters are known to have been compass-makers as well (which, as far as I am aware, has not been suggested for any Italian practitioners), even if we knew about the arrangements in Palma there is no guarantee they would have been replicated in Genoa, Venice or any of the other places from which charts were signed.

Apart from looking to later periods, or speculating, we have to turn instead to the charts themselves. These have been seriously studied since the 19th century but it is the contention of these pages that we should be able to detect signs of the procedures – not necessarily the same in each case – carried out by the creators of what has survived, if we look at some of the smaller details of their charts, hitherto largely ignored.

Subject to hard evidence emerging, I suggest that a chartmaker's working environment might have conformed to one of the following variants, or perhaps mixtures of them at different times:

  1. at its very simplest, just a single chartmaker working alone, producing and (perhaps) signing his own work – for example practising sailors, but not necessarily restricted to those

  2. the more usual model of a master working with perhaps one or two family members and/or one or two apprentices, who might expect to leave after their term, or continue as journeymen; the assistants would presumably be contributing (invisibly?) to work (presumably) signed by the master

  3. shared working between two or more fully trained chartmakers or time-served journeymen (former apprentices). The different hands Pujades observed on productions by or attributable to Vallseca might be evidence of such a set-up. Perhaps a certain amount of stylistic freedom was accorded to such mature practitioners [on which see The Vallseca contract of 1433]

  4. finally, and perhaps merging into the preceding, a small-scale quasi-factory operation might be envisaged, with a number of assistants (not necessarily apprentices), who might be skilled or semi-skilled. In such an arrangement, with its emphasis on cost efficiency, it is possible to imagine a division of labour, with people of varying levels of skill dealing with the different chart production stages. Such a procedure might help to explain how functional charts could have been produced in sufficient quantity. However, it must be emphasised that there is no documentary or C&SA evidence for such an arrangement

Even without direct evidence, the term Magister (master) must presumably indicate the presence of at least one apprentice, or perhaps just the fact that there had been an apprentice at one time (since titles have a habit of being retained). Not surprisingly, given the early period we are dealing with, the record is fragmentary and there is sometimes a blurring of the distinction between an unrelated apprentice and a younger family member (say the son of the master's sister). In addition, the difference between being trained by an individual and copying that person's work may be hard to discern. The C&SA findings, and a comparison of the Ionian and Aegean island forms, can provide useful evidence here, since their concern with the underlying basics rather than the demonstrative, more personal elements, may reveal a continuation of conventions learnt during training.

But our best picture of how a chain of master/apprenticeship chartmaking relationships worked in practice, even if from centuries later, can be seen in the Thames (or Drapers') School in 17th-century London (Campbell, 1973 – now available online: The Drapers' Company and its school of seventeenth century chart-makers). For over 100 years, seven 'generations' of Thames-side chartmakers bound their apprentices in one of the major livery companies of the City of London. Of the twelve practitioners involved, seven are recoreded as having their own apprentices but five did not, though they might well have used assistants or family members.

Besides, perhaps, having better materials for use in the copying process, John Daniel and his successors would probably have produced their charts of the Mediterranean region in very much the same way as did those before 1469. Because they took in their apprentices in one of the London livery companies, we probably have a full documentary record, revealing that only a small proportion went on to become master chartmakers themselves.

Some of the Thames apprentices were family members; most were not. What Pujades describes as Guillem Soler's 'home-cum-atelier' (2009, p.308) and the Soler 'family atelier' (2007, p.492a) could well represent one of the suggested atelier types described under (1) or (2) above.

For Pujades, chartmakers worked routinely, if not habitually, within an atelier environment, even if he did not make clear whether he was talking about a simple master/apprentice arrangement, the kind of semi-mass production he discerned in Vallseca's operation, or some looser connection. Vallseca aside, the justification for this (besides apprenticeship records) rested on perceived necessity rather than direct historical evidence. Pujades summed up the general situation as he saw it, as follows:

'Those of us who study nautical cartography are faced with a paradox: on the one hand, many charts and many purchasers, and on the other few cartographers and even fewer ateliers. The logical consequence of this is obvious: each cartographic atelier (or at least a considerable number of them) had to supply the market with a great number of navigational charts' (2007, p.497b).

Pujades further claims that in response to this mass demand, 'by the end of the fourteenth century there were ateliers specialising in the serial production of low-cost nautical charts' (2007, p.498b). The question that has to be asked is: where were these ateliers? In 1408, as reported by the Datinis' agent, there was only a single chartmaker working in Majorca (Pujades, 2009, p.311). In Genoa, in 1438, one Agostino da Noli (none of whose work has survived) was the only practising chartmaker, who, to gain tax relief, was required to take his brother on as a apprentice so as to keep the craft alive – evidence that he did not already have an apprentice ('Chapter' p.430b). Though admittedly not at the same time, those examples nevertheless emphasise the fragility of the chartmaking tradition in two of its three major centres.

Who was producing this vast quantity of 'cheap' charts? [on which see What is the difference between a plain and a de luxe chart]. It takes time to build up a 'school' of chartmakers, with perhaps around seven years required to train each apprentice. With the possible exception of Vallseca, we have not yet identified any ateliers specialising in 'serial production' in Majorca or Genoa, either those we know about or other, shadowy figures. This suggest that such operations might have occurred in Venice, even if we have no direct confirmation of this [on which see Venetian practice].

Where is the evidence of former apprentices setting up on their own, which would be the logical outcome from an atelier system, even if such a step was far from inevitable? Perhaps the 40-year gap in Venice between the Vesconte's last surviving work and the Pizzigani's first was simply due to the accepted high level of chart wastage (and the Black Death). But it might be because Vesconte did not have those apprentices on which Pujades must rely for his claims about a Vesconte atelier.

In Genoa, after a highly important early contribution, the art of chartmaking limped along in the 15th century with just a few, apparently unconnected practitioners: the Beccaris, the unknown creator of the Medici Atlas (itself apparently based on a lost 14th-century Genoese work), Noli, Pareto and Canepa. In the 1450s the Genoese priest Bartolomeo de Pareto (for whom we have a single chart of 1455) was described as the most experienced chartmaker in the city. I had earlier claimed that Pareto could hardly have maintained a workshop with apprentices while spending time as a papal acolyte in Rome ('Chapter' p.430b), where his chart survives. However (in a personal communication) Ramon Pujades points out that the title may well have been honorific and not have involved a necessary presence in Rome.

In one specific instance, that of Grazioso Benincasa, Pujades made a powerful assertion. 'There is no doubt that he was a specialised craftsman, for not even the most ardent sceptics deny that such regular and systematic characteristics needed the support of a well organised atelier employing permanent collaborators' (2007, p.497a). Well, I will have to confess, in this case at least, to being an 'atelier sceptic'.

In my 1987 chapter I described the sequence of at least seven moves Benincasa made between Italian cities (on the basis of the signatures on his works) and wondered 'how could even one apprentice have followed in this hectic wake' (p.432). The detailed examination of Benincasa's productions done recently, and in particular the C&SA results, make it even more likely that Benincasa's charts were his own, perhaps aided in some cases by his son Andrea [see The style and content of Grazioso Benincasa's charts: imitation, innovation and repetition and Colour and shape on the work of Benincasa (a Microsoft Word document)].

Whatever precise meaning was attached to the term, on pages 63-70 of his Les cartes portolanes, Pujades cites potential ateliers/workshops (taller in Catalan) for eight chartmakers: B. Beccari, Benincasa, Cresques, Dulceti, Roselli, R. Soler, Vallseca and Vesconte. He also attributes two charts to the 'Pizzigani family' [his C 21 & C 23]. Elsewhere, he backs up these claims by reference to toponymic and stylistic similarities between the signed and unsigned works. In several cases, there can be no doubting their close connections. Likewise, some anonymous works are, with good reason, described as 'related' to one another, or even in the same hand, but two early Genoese charts (his C 10 & C 11) are specifically described as being products of the same 'atelier'.

Besides those, Pujades made what might seem like definite personal attributions concerning three Venetians: Virga, F. de Cesanis and Ziroldi/Giroldi. However, in a personal communication (10 December 2008) he explained that, for Catalan and Genoese practitioners, he had assigned some works to a known individual's 'atelier', because they closely followed that person's model without being in his hand. However, for the Venetians, where evidence of workshop practice has yet to be identified, he placed, in brackets, the name of the chartmaker who had apparently provided the model, without adding 'atelier'.

I reassert my earlier view ('Chapter' p.429a) that 'we would merely caution against the automatic assumption that no chartmaker ever worked alone' (see further pp.429-30). In some cases the evidence points the other way. The numerous Venetian sailor/chartmakers (Pujades, 2007, p. 486-7 lists seven of them) and the much-travelled Benincasa can hardly have maintained a permanently staffed workshop. Bianco signed his 1448 Atlantic chart when his ship was in London. We know that Agostino Noli worked alone in Genoa in 1438, which means we cannot rule out the possibility that others did likewise.

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Pujades argues, on the basis of a surviving contract of 1433, that the volume of charts being produced by Vallseca, even if of the simplest kind, could not have been done without a workshop operating with semi-mass production procedures (perhaps along the lines of the suggested workshop model (3) or (4) above). Such routine works would have had a very low survival rate. Why would anybody want to retain them when they were worn out – although fragments might have been preserved in bindings – and such charts would probably not have been signed. But Pujades also attributes (very plausibly) two unsigned ornate charts to the same putative Vallseca workshop.

The different hands apparently involved in the signed and unsigned decorative Vallsecan works is a further reason to support the idea, in this case, of a multi-staffed workshop, able to produce both functional and presentational works. But it is likely that Vallseca's operation was exceptional – at least in the period before 1500, though the atlases produced by Battista Agnese in the first half of the 16th century certainly seem to be in various hands [personal communication from Peter Barber]. It is also possible to read the 1433 Vallseca contract differently from the ways Pujades suggests (2007, pp.497-8 and 2009, pp.327-9).

In the first place, it is not a straightforward supplier/retailer sale but a triangular arrangement involving a debt with Vallseca's brother-in-law. Second, the requirement, specified by the merchant who was to sell them, for 'cartas de navagar bones et sufficienties' [good and sufficient navigational charts] (2007, p.497b, contract line 9) carries the implication that they had to contain all the information needed by a seafarer. This surely confirms what is argued elsewhere [What is the difference between a plain and a de luxe chart] that the only distinction between surviving rudimentary or elaborate charts lies in the ornamentation. In other words, there was no evident way to save time in production except by omitting the illustrative flourishes.

A third point that is open to a different interpretation concerns this passage, in its English translation: 'Meanwhile (in order to prevent prices from falling due to an excess of supply), Vallseca committed not to sell more than the minimum number of charts necessary to financially support himself and his family' (2009, p.154). We do not know what Vallseca's subsistence-level of chart production would have been, but if the marketing of one chart a week (the contract specified delivery of 24 charts in six months) might distort the market (and were they all to be sold in Majorca rather, say, than in Barcelona?) this does little to confirm the 'many charts and many purchasers' that Pujades envisioned (2007, p.497b). In 1433, there might have been three other active chartmakers in Palma: Joan de Viladesters (known from a chart of 1428), Rafel Soler (thought to have been active in the second quarter of the 15th century) and Rafel Loret (Guillem Soler's grandson).

Pujades extrapolates from that single document that, at a comparable production rate and over a minimum of 38 years during which Vallseca was active, he could have been responsible for about 2000 charts. This seems to me to be unjustified speculation given that the 1433 contract was drawn up in response to a specific and presumably unusual situation (did Vallseca normally pay his debts in this way?). It may also be significant that the contract dates from six years before the first of Vallseca's surviving productions. All of those - the three signed (1439-49) and the two reliably attributed – are ornate, or even highly ornate. Although such works clearly had a far greater chance of surviving, it is surely possible that, between 1433 and 1439, Vallseca changed the balance of his business in favour of luxury charts. If so, that would have considerably reduced his overall chart volume, let alone the number of plain versions.

Because of the perceived danger that such a rate of production might depress chart prices, the 1433 arrangement was unlikely to have been repeated. Vallseca's precise career chart total is less important than the fact that Pujades could use that contract to conclude that 'what is important is that we can certainly speak of serialized, nearly mass production of navigational charts' (2009, p.328). What needs to be challenged is that the Vallseca set-up was in any way typical.

In a chapter in the volume accompanying the Paris 'L'Age d'Or des Cartes Marines' exhibition of 2012, Pujades elaborated on the quantity of charts in commercial circulation (2012, pp. 60-2). Adding a newly uncovered 1393 reference about Bernat Oliva, he was able to demonstrate that at least 33 navigational charts (probably made in Majorca) were in the possession of just two dealers – from a city not known to be producing its own charts – in the short period of two and a half years (1389-92). This is certainly significant but does not, in my view, alter the argument made above, namely that Vallseca was unlikely to have been responsible for the large volume of unaccountable charts. {This paragraph added 8 February 2014}

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The most likely workshop arrangement, surely, is for type (2) [see What is meant by atelier?], in which, whatever the contribution made by an assistant/apprentice, the product would be entirely in the master's style and, usually, signed by him. If Pujades's use of the term atelier refers to this workshop mode, in what way would the work of a fully trained apprentice differ from that of the master, except in terms of handwriting? And there too, given that the apprentice would possibly have been taught to write by the master, and certainly shown how to imitate his treatment of the place-names, their respective hands might be almost indistinguishable. Or, to put it the other way round, should many of those works accepted, on the basis of their signature, as being entirely the work of the master, not be better understood as unacknowledged collaborations, whenever apprenticeship, or the use of family members, was involved?

On that understanding, the attribution of an unsigned work to 'X's atelier' rather than to X himself would be justifiable only if it betrayed certain 'atelier' characteristics that distinguished it from the master's signed works, which, in Pujades's contention would have been produced in an atelier anyway. But how can we know what an 'atelier' work might look like (leaving aside the supposed Cresques and Vallseca set-ups)? Is it likely that within a single workshop there would be people working directly with the master and others producing charts independently in their own distinctive style? This is inherently improbable and I found no evidence for such productions in the C&SA exercise.

How, therefore, could any work be attributed to such a master/apprentice atelier, rather than to the master himself? The exception might be Vallseca, on the grounds of general consistency in every respect other than that of multiple hands – in the case of the 1439 chart, even within a single production. Indeed, perhaps the two charts attributed to him (Pujades's C 41 & C 43) should be seen as the only true surviving productions of a type of atelier that comprised several experienced chartmakers (workshop model, type (3))? No doubt many signed charts are wholly or partly the work of a mature apprentice, a journeyman or a fully trained family member – as was certainly found among the Thames-side chartmakers in the 17th century (Campbell, 1973, pp. 94 & 98).

Yet two of those works classified by Pujades as atelier productions are significantly different in appearance (whether at the level of major visual features or in terms of the less obvious C&SA elements) from the work of the chartmaker whose name is invoked. This applies to works Pujades labelled as the product of an atelier supposedly belonging to Roselli (C 70 and C 71).

Pujades has made a deep, and valuable, study of the toponymy on as many of the pre-1470 charts for which he could obtain good illlustrations, hence including almost all of those tagged as 'atelier' productions. Toponymy is of course an invaluable tool for helping to answer dating and lineage questions. But it was much easier to copy place-names than coastlines. Indeed, new names were absorbed on a regular basis, which is why the toponymy is so dynamic. As proposed elsewhere (Stages in the construction of a chart) for practical reasons the toponymy would almost certainly have been set out on a separate workshop model. From the frequency with which toponymic changes were made we can fairly speculate that chart customers were alert to those.

Since some of Pujades's atelier attributions seem to rest heavily on his own toponymic analysis, I would caution that this may have introduced a bias away from what I contend is the more reliable evidence of the hydrographic content and particularly the island shapes, colouring and other features considered by the C&SA. Those are closer to the construction process than place-names. The small conventions an apprentice, or more usually family member, learnt in his teens would be likely to stay with him all his life. And, as Pujades and I have both shown, most toponymic innovations can be attributed to just a few individuals. Others, including no doubt many of those responsible for the unsigned works, were no more than copyists.

What toponymic, and indeed visual peculiarities, may highlight is not so much authorship as context, both in terms of place and time. Even if an attribution to atelier X is not readily sustainable, it may correctly point to the work of an unknown, independent chartmaker working in the same city at roughly that time. Thus the 'atelier' attribution may instead mark the very different reality of an unauthorised copy [on which see Copies and imitations].

It is also possible that a single tiny, and previously unnoticed, detail may allow us to identify chart copyists who had not passed through the apprenticeship process. This relates to the detached initial letter for the toponym damiata in the Nile delta. Someone who had learnt his craft as a boy would have been taught to place the 'd' separately on a seaward island, and with the same orientation. Those who omitted the 'd' altogether, who repeated it in the main body of the word, or who turned it to face in a different direction, cannot have understood its function. This, for example, provides a further indication that, however much it was inspired by the Pizzigani brothers, the anonymous chart in the Civico Museo Correr, Port. 30 (Pujades C 21) was not drawn in their atelier by someone they had trained. In that case what can be read is amiata with what may perhaps be the detached 'd', but placed at the far side of the large island and smothered in colour. The same applies to one of the atlases that imitated the work of Benincasa (Parma, II, 29, 1621 – Pujades A 42). This placed an upper case 'D' on the island, facing the wrong direction, and then wrote damiata out in full. The ‘a’ of aygues mortes served a similar diagnostic function, see The features chosen to illustrate the developing portrayal of islands and estuaries on portolan charts up to 1469 (Nos 23 & 51) {This paragraph added October 2013}.

It is the lack of compelling evidence which leads me to challenge, but only in a terminological sense, most of Pujades's attributions to an atelier. Some of the works in question are either so similar that there is no reason to deny the master's overall responsibility, or so dissimilar as to repudiate that connection altogether. Indeed, leaving aside the uncertain picture surrounding the Cresques' operations, I found more or less convincing only the argument in favour of a Vallsecan atelier. In other cases, from a combination of the C&SA results, other visual features, and what I could see of the handwriting (without being able to make direct comparisons), I argue in favour of attributing the 'atelier' works to the named chartmaker himself, e.g., Vesconte, Dulceti, R. Soler, Ziroldi, Roselli and Benincasa [see Table B in Tables of signed, attributed, anonymous and workshop productions (a Microsoft Word document)]. In a few instances, the C&SA makes the suggested connection unlikely and it is preferable to see the work as that of an otherwise unknown chartmaker.

For a discussion of these issues in the 16th century or later see 'Workshops, individual production, and anonymous charts'
in Astengo (2007, pp.189-91)

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Some work has been done, and much more is needed, to try to unravel the sequence in which the elements were added to a portolan chart. Opinions still differ about this, and it is perfectly possible that different chartmakers had different procedures. Since those routines must have formed so fundamental a part of apprentice training, it is probable that the master would have continued with the same sequence throughout his working life. If so, that could itself be important diagnostic evidence, adding perhaps a 'constructional signature' to the toponymic, visual and chromatic 'signatures' already identified.

A note is needed first on the methods used to copy one chart from another.

For a recent re-creation of a portolan chart by a professional mapmaker, using traditional materials and methods, see Kevin Eric Sheehan. 'The Functions of Portolan Maps: an evaluation of the utility of manuscript nautical cartography from the thirteenth through sixteenth centuries', 360-page PhD dissertation, Durham University, July 2014. Note, though, that the various techniques tested were those described by Cortés in the mid-16th century. At the time of the earliest charts, perhaps three centuries before that, paper would still have been rare {This paragraph added 6 February 2016}. On the production stages see also Corradino Astengo, 'Chart of the Mediterranean Sea (unfinished), anonymous Italy, 1650-1699' - the MEDEA 'Chart of the week' {This sentence added 14 January 2021}.

Likely copying method(s)

The earliest account of a copying process used for nautical charts was provided by Martin Cortés in his Breve compendio de la esfera y del arte de navegar of 1551 (see Pujades, 2007 pp. 471-2 for the relevant Spanish text and an English summary). This describes how to trace on transparent paper the coastal outline from the pattern, then insert another sheet, smoked on one side (like carbon paper), and finally run over the traced outline with a round-pointed punch to transfer those details to the new vellum. However, it does not seem that the earlier practitioners used this tracing method, and Pujades (2007, pp.478-9) explains the inadequacy of early paper for such a copying process. Multiple samples of the work of four chartmakers from different centuries and production centres were compared – Vesconte, Ziroldi, Roselli and Benincasa – and in each case there were small, non-repeated differences in the way that they drew in the stretches of coastal outline between headlands. It is highly unlikely that all these variations could be attributed to the use of successive workshop patterns, although differences between the 1449 and 1462 Roselli charts might be an example of that.

If the charts were not traced, the most likely alternative is pouncing, in which the significant points, usually headlands, were pricked through the model. The pattern would be placed over the new vellum and ink powder sprinkled over it so that where it passed through the pricked holes it would leave a mark on the new chart. Those points were then joined up to create a continuous coastline, in a separate operation. Again – although this would explain the free-hand differences in the coastal sections between headlands – no direct evidence of the pouncing method has been identified. Perhaps the original ink-dust spots might be visible at high magnification. Or a workshop model, even if only a fragment, might be identified from its pricked holes along the coast.

Michael J. Ferrar's online essay of November 2013 (pages 12-14), Leather, Vellum, Parchment; Drawing and copying maps and charts provides his suggested answers to my 12 'outstanding questions' regarding the copying method (Some areas for possible future research into early portolan charts). For a detailed and systematic investigation of the methods definitely or possibly used in portolan-chart copying see Šima Krtalić, ‘Anchoring the Image of the Sea: Copying Coastlines on Manuscript Nautical Charts from the Late Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period’, Imago Mundi, 74:1 (2022): 1-30. {Last sentence added 13 July 2022}.


Although no workshop models have survived (or have yet been recognised as such) there is ample evidence that they must have constituted the chartmaker's major asset [see 'Geometric consistency']. On the reasonable assumption that efficient workshop procedures would have been developed by at least the early 14th century – even if we have no documentary evidence of what those might have been – it seems acceptable to consider the logistics involved. Handling a single piece of vellum a metre or more in width would present its own, manageable problems but those would be magnified if the model (or 'pattern') was of equal size.

This could imply that some of the possible types of pattern suggested below covered only part of a chart. However, this is unlikely to have been the case with the main pattern, that for the coastlines. Assuming that pouncing was the early copying method, any use of sectional models would have been difficult to align, while running the risk of a mismatch between adjacent areas. Instead we should assume that the main pattern was placed over a vellum of appropriate size, with each being flattened and held together so that they could move in relation neither to one another or to the worktop. It is when we consider the various subsequent operations, which at times would have required the new vellum to be turned through 360 degrees to give ready access to any point, that it would have made sense (to a modern commentator at least – though that does not constitute evidence) for the early practitioners to have used a sequence of partial patterns, and possibly separate ones for the different elements. Manoeuvring a metre-wide vellum skin over another one of similar size would have been very cumbersome:

Coastal outlines {This section re-written in October 2013}
Had pouncing been used to establish the nodal points along the coast, might the model have comprised a full skin with the pin-holes and nothing else? The sprinkled ink powder, which must have outlined the edges of the holes for the next operation, would have stained the surface and obscured any other detail there might have been. A pattern with just holes would have served as a basic tool, not an exemplar to be copied from. Having, according to this hypothetical scenario, transferred the headlands to the new chart, how were the actual coastal outlines filled in? The precise configurations (at least in the sampled work of four chartmakers: Vesconte, Ziroldi, Roselli and Benincasa) are essentially faithful reproductions but with sufficient small variation to reveal freehand copying. Such patterns would therefore have served as a visual guide only.

It seems likely that the largest islands – Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, Euboea, Crete and Cyprus, possibibly with Majorca and Rhodes in addition – were directly copied along with the continental coastlines. The general lack of distortion strongly supports that contention, though cartometric testing would be needed to determine that point and to check further that those islands were not transferred separately afterwards. The Aegean sheet in the Medici Atlas (Pujades A25, No.6) might have helped to confirm that point because, while it includes the arc of islands to the south, from Crete to Rhodes, it lacks all those within the Aegean itself, Euboea included. The suggested workshop practice of including the larger islands in the initial copying stage would certainly have taken in Euboea, which is effectively part of the mainland anyway. Its omission here might cast doubt on my assumption, except that the sheet in question is otherwise fully supplied with place-names, which suggests that the Aegean detail was intentionally omitted, to be shown in enlarged form separately. [Though note that sheet 7, which does cover the Aegean separately, is in a later hand.] {This paragraph added 31 August 2014}

Would there have been sectioned coastal outline patterns, so as to bring the model comfortably close to where the chartmaker was working? This is argued for the place-name copying as well. Might there, for example, have been separate patterns for, respectively, the British Isles and north-west Europe, Spain, the western Mediterranean, the Adriatic, Aegean and Black Sea, the eastern Mediterranean and North Africa (divided into two or three sections)? Besides the greater convenience of using such relatively small pieces of vellum there could have been other advantages: for example, this would have allowed several draftsmen to work at the same time. Also, if a particular section was worn out or needed updating it could easily be replaced.

It can readily be understood why such patterns would not have survived, and why there are only very occasional mentions when a chartmaker handed one on to his successor (see 'Master charts or patterns'). Any chart-sized pattern would have become unsightly through constant handling, and partial sections would have had no perceived value outside the workshop.

A good reason for establishing fixed colour conventions would be to enable an experienced chart colourist to work from memory. Otherwise, assuming such conventions were in place, he could presumably have used sectioned colour patterns, which would surely have been needed in the workshop anyway for training purposes.

Small hydrographical details
Because many of these will not be visible in most reproductions, and in some cases need magnifying beyond their original size before they can be clearly made out, it is easy for them to be overlooked. It is not surprising therefore that they have been generally ignored by historians. Yet they can be present in prodigious numbers. An approximate count of the 1439 Vallseca chart found perhaps 125 variously-coloured islands, just under 500 red ink dots or blobs of red pigment (presumably for islets) and about 170 brown crosses, the accepted symbol for rocks. In addition to those 800 hydrographical features there were about 30 pointilliste arrangements, some of them elaborate, made up of red or black/brown ink dots, representing sand-banks or reefs respectively.
      A more detailed, albeit selective, analysis was made of one of Benincasa's 1469 atlases (British Library, Add. MS 31315). For the British islands alone the draftsman had to apply about 150 elements in red pigment and 250 in black or brown ink, and for the Aegean and Sea of Marmora he had to insert approximately 720 such elements. In Benincasa's case – though less so with the three others whose comparative treatment of such details was analysed (Vesconte, Ziroldi and Roselli) – there was notable consistency in the size and shape of the blobs of red paint as well as the arrangement of black stippling and the crosses (some of them double, and a number filled in with four dots). Even if their positioning was sometimes no more precise than the scale or accuracy of the charts in general, they were invariably included and never haphazardly placed. Indeed, they must have been more accurate, in terms of fidelity to the workshop model, than any practical use to which they could have been put. They can have done no more than give a general indication of nearby islets or navigational dangers.
      Extrapolating from the fact that the British islands and the combined Aegean and Sea of Marmora accounted for perhaps 30% of the total of such small details on the 1439 chart, this meant that Benincasa might have had to use red pigment for well over 1000 red blobs or to give distinctive shapes to small islands. For the black or brown ink crosses and dots, the number might have been nearer 2,500 across an entire chart or atlas. It is hard to imagine that all of those elements could have been memorised. Filling in a red sand-bank or the line of black dots for a reef would have been simple, but many of the other hydrographical features must have needed constant reference to a pattern, first for one colour, then, in a separate sweep, for the other. The fundamental importance of this unseen element of chart production must be acknowledged and with it due recognition given to the proportion of time that would have had to be expended on those 3,500 or so small details.

This is the feature that placed special demands on a scribe. Other inscriptions could be written near the edge of the chart facing the outside – convenient for both the writer and viewer. The toponyms, however, made their own rigid demands, since they needed to be aligned in any direction. Because the scribe would presumably have wished to write in his normal manner, this would have meant that some names were awkwardly placed or even out of reach.
      A simple name list would not have enabled the signficant toponyms to be positioned correctly (the remainder were merely placed, evenly spaced, between those). For that, a pattern, probably with just outlines and names, would have been required. For convenience, and to avoid having to turn two large charts each time the coastline changed direction, the toponymic model would probably have been cut up into sections. So as to reach to the far side of the chart – for example, to write the names for the Black Sea's south coast – the chart would presumably have had to be partly rolled up, so as to lessen the scribe's stretch. If so, care would have had to be taken not to lean too heavily on the rolled portion and also to ensure that previous paint and ink were fully dry.
      How long did it take to enter the 1,800 or so names? Unsurprisingly, we do not know. But some indications can be gleaned from what is known of practice in a scriptorium. Examination of fifteen manuscripts (produced between the 8th century and 1470) showed a range of daily line totals, some estimated some recorded, of 119-332. See Michael Gullick, 'How fast did scribes write? Evidence from Romanesque manuscripts', in. Linda L. Brownrigg (ed.), Making the medieval book: techniques of production. Proceedings of the Fourth Conference of the Seminar in the History of the Book to 1500, Oxford, July 1992 (Anderson-Lovelace; The Red Gull Press, 1995), pp.39-58, especially the tables pp.46-7. {This paragraph added 28 April 2011}
      That a toponymic pattern could have a long life can be seen by the fact that some unusual names found on the work of Guillem Soler (from about the 1380s) recur in the work of his grandson Rafel perhaps half a century later. On this see the description of the G. Soler fragment announced in 2011, which cites the Catalan name listings in Pujades (2007).

It would need practical experimentation to determine if it was feasible for two, or even more, to work simultaneously on a single chart. The advantages of that might be that fewer work spaces lessened the need for a large workshop, and also that it speeded up the production of any chart that had been specially ordered. The obvious disadvantages, which might have been insuperable, would relate to the co-workers being able to keep out of each others' way. More than one hand was detected by Pujades on the 1439 Vallseca chart, but that does not prove that those concerned were working simultaneously. There would clearly be no equivalent difficulty with the separate sheets of an atlas where, using the analogy of text book production, we might expect to see such collaboration, even if it has yet to be confirmed.

Astengo (2007(a), p.205) cites a suggestion by Caraci that 'the copyists and apprentices may well have written to dictation rather than following a list of place-names'. How then would the copyists have known where to put each name? {This paragraph added 12 September 2011}

Andrea Bianco's "London" chart of 1448

{This section added 28 April 2011}

The inscription on the 1448 Bianco chart now in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan reads: Andrea biāco venician comito de galia mi fexe a londra m.cccc.xxxx.viii. In my 1987 Chapter (p.433a) I stated that Bianco presumably 'drew this chart ashore [in London] during the three and half months allotted for cargo loading and customs clearance.' In the light of the foregoing analysis of the equipment and procedures involved in constructing a portolan chart, it seems highly unlikely that Bianco could have actually drawn this in London. There were no chartmakers active in that city whose workshop and equipment he could have used (even if they had been willing) and it is surely improbable that Bianco would have carried his own materials, and particularly his valuable patterns, on an extended galley voyage.

The nature of that voyage is also unclear, since in that year, 1448, he was not, as usual, recorded as the 'comito' (probably second in command) of one of the Flanders galleys making their annual voyage (Chapter p.432 note 425). This point is important because the unusual features of the 1448 chart are what give it its historical importance, as the earliest surviving cartographic account of the Portuguese discoveries beyond Cabo Bojador.

Arranged vertically rather than horizontally (and, on the basis of the signature, oriented south), it covers the Atlantic coasts alone, extending south to include the Portuguese west African discoveries (evidently those up to 1446, but omitting the succession of voyages that followed later in that same year and in 1447). [On this see further in the Benincasa essay, in the section West Africa.] Cortesão contended that, 'as Bianco drew, or finished, his chart in London, he must have called at Lisbon on his way thither and obtained there a recent Portuguese chart showing the new discoveries which he copied' (1969-71, II: 144). Cortesão was rightly dismissive of the suggestion by F.C. Wieder in 1938 that Bianco had himself collected that information. Much of its toponymy is in Portuguese (pp.144-5).

Nordenskiöld (Periplus p.62a) stated that, as far as he knew, this was the only pre-16th century chart to be 'drawn in a place not situated on the coast of the Mediterranean and it is also perhaps the first chart drawn in England'. But was it?

The highly observant Armando Cortesão hinted at what I suggest is the answer to the contradiction of a chart by a Venetian practitioner evidently produced in another city. He carefully stated that 'Bianco drew, or finished, his chart in London' [my italics]. There is, however, no evidence that Bianco was ever in Lisbon and any 'finishing' must have been superficial (and not have involved west Africa) since the chart was placed on the vellum in such a way that Africa ends neatly at the neck.

I would propose instead that the entire chart was drawn in Venice, with just the signature added in London. This need not be so surprising. Indeed, it would be sensible practice for a chartmaker to leave the signature until he had a sale – otherwise a chart could seem out of date. It is perfectly possible that he took the finished chart with him, specifically so as to sell it in London or Flanders. In this instance the already used appearance of the chart seems not to have put off a purchaser, who perhaps realised he was acquiring something out of the ordinary.

I believe we can see the evidence for this on the chart itself. What follows is based on the scan on the DVD accompanying Pujades, 2007 (C 46). There are of course potential dangers from using such secondary sources but the image here is of reasonably good quality. Observe first how the relatively strong red tones – of rhumb lines, place-names and islands – start to discolour and then fade as you work down the chart, from north to south, towards the neck with its signature at the bottom. Yet the red in the signature is unaffected by that.

Note also how the rectangular box for the signature was evidently in position before the rhumb line network was inserted, since those lines stop neatly at its top border. Contrast that with the way the equivalent lines pass through the scale bars at right and left. The most logical explanation for the fading towards the neck is exposure to light over a period of time. The most logical explanation for the unfaded signature is that it was added later to a chart that had been previously provided with its signature box. All Bianco would have needed in London, therefore, would have been a pen and red ink.

The suggestion that the first chart actually produced in England was not Bianco's of 1448 but a sketch by John à Borough in 1539 (Tyacke, 2007 p.1727) is likely to disappoint my fellow countrymen. However, it does fit the facts rather better than the scenario we had all previously assumed. First, because of the difficulty (impossibility?) of drawing a chart without access to a properly equipped workroom. Second, because the bright signature, when all around is faded, is otherwise inexplicable. And third because, had Bianco collected the west African information in 1448, he would presumably have extended his coverage from Cape Verde (14.43o N) south as far as Conakry (9.31o N), instead of placing a fictitious eastward-trending coastline immediately below his terminal names, cabo verde and cabo roso.

Since almost all the discoveries documenting the coastline below the point treated by Bianco resulted from the successive voyages of one man, Alvaro Fernandes, it is unlikely, had Bianco been in Lisbon in 1448 before coming to London, that he would have seen a chart recording the earlier voyage but not those from the two immediately preceding years. Indeed, given the unconvincing coastline and arbitrarily placed final names, it seems likely – at least for the southernmost section – that he was reproducing a verbal account, not a chart. Cortesão made that point, but did not draw my conclusion from it (1969-71, II: 144). It is far more likely that, at some point between 1446 and the time he set off for the Atlantic in 1448, Bianco had received from Portugal a chart (or an oral or written account) containing the west African information and had copied that onto the chart now in the Ambrosiana Library.

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The elements that make up a portolan chart

The following note attempts to list all the elements that regularly appear on the charts. Whatever the sequence adopted, all portolan charts would require most of these features, though some might be input at the same time. The various skills involved – mathematical, drafting, writing, colouring and artwork – might have been provided by a single individual, by two or by several.

Since, as far as I am aware, no account has survived describing the training of a chartmaker's apprentice, we can do no more than speculate how the boy would have acquired the necessary skills over the course of perhaps seven years. It seems likely that he would have been instructed in, and practised, one element at a time, only moving on to the next once he had mastered the previous one. It also seems logical that he would have started with the simplest and graduated to more complex procedures as he grew older. Leaving aside any artwork that might have been involved in that atelier, it is probably fair to assume that the specialist penmanship skill was among the the last to be acquired, although reading and writing would have been a fundamental part of the training. [On this see further 'Training'.]

If – and this is admitted guesswork – that was the learning sequence, it would mean that the master would be assisted for the toponymy and any legends only by older apprentices or time-served journeymen. If that supposition is correct, along with a further assumption that most chartmakers are unlikely to have had more than two apprentices at a time (who would probably have been working staggered terms) it could well have meant that sufficient manpower for the insertion of the place-names was the main factor that limited production rates.

Pujades (2009) p.329 noted that Vallseca owned slaves, who might possibly have had a role as assistants rather than apprentices, which would presumably have altered the division of labour in that workshop.

The detailed production stages

(on which see also Sheehan, 2014; Pujades, 2007, Chapter 4)

(*) indicates the small number of elements below that would presumably have been omitted from the cheaper charts

Initial decisions
What scale would be used and hence what size of vellum would be needed. What would be the geographical extent? Would the neck be to the east or west? Would the chart be plain and, if not, to what degree and in what ways would it be ornamented?

Preparatory work
The vellum would have had to be prepared but would have been bought ready for use. The inks and paints needed to be mixed (on a daily basis?).

Mathematical work
Defining the centrepoint(s) of the single or double rhumb network, scraping with a pair of dividers the 'hidden circle(s)' (which can be clearly seen on the 1448 Bianco chart), and determining the location of the intersection points, each of which would be defined by a compass hole. For this operation, at least, the vellum would need to be completely flat and secured to the table. One straight-edge measuring a metre or more would be required and presumably other shorter ones. More complex mathematics would be required where twin networks met in the central Mediterranean and for any extensions beyond the main network(s).

Transferring the coastal outlines
I agree with Pujades (2007, p.478-9) that we do not know how this was done, although we both favour the pouncing method as being most likely. It was evidently a two-stage affair (see above), first transferring the entire outlines (by some tracing method) or just the headlands, estuaries and other significant coastal features (by pouncing), and then inking those in (see next).

Ink drafting (in black or brown)
Inking in the chart's borders (perhaps formed of multiple lines), creating the scale bars, and joining up all the intersection points on the hidden circle to create the rhumb network (ink smudges from the ruler can sometimes be seen). Pujades observed that (on some charts?) the eight main directions (in black or brown) were ruled first, with those in red and green added at a later stage (2007, p.474a).
      The hydrographical outlines would be inked in, either by following the continuous traced coastline or by joining up the pounced dots [on this, see also the comments about Benincasa under Copying & scales – 'Copying']. The larger islands may have been included in the transfer process; the medium and small islands are likely to have been drawn freehand by copying from a model for that section (or, where they had been given a sufficiently distinctive mnemonic shape, from memory). The x symbol and dots for rocks or reefs would be precisely positioned in black or brown ink (see above Patterns ('Small hydrographical details')). Where name labels occasionally have inked edges, those would be added (*).

Ink drafting (in colour)
For the red and green rhumb lines see the previous note; for the red colour used for prominent names see 'Writing'; and for the red ink used for some hydrographical features see above Patterns ('Small hydrographical details').

Perhaps up to 1,800 names would have to be written neatly, the usual black or brown ink giving way to red for significant names. Then, presumably in a separate operation, the names inserted in the sea would be added in both black/brown and red, and usually in the opposite direction to those written inland. Some charts include province names, geographical or historical legends and other inland detail (*).

The islands and estuaries were usually tinted in up to eight different colours (as described in How the colour was used and applied), by applying wash or solid colour with various-sized brushes. We do not know if they moved across the chart applying all the colours to a particular area, or, as seems far more likely, did all the work in one tint before moving on to another. The latter would have avoided the constant change of brush and colour pot and, perhaps, the amount of brush-cleaning at the day's end. The length of time that mixed pigment remained viable might also be relevant here. The application of gold leaf on de luxe works, and the subsequent burnishing, would have been time-consuming (*).
      In most cases colouring involved the careful filling in of pre-existing ink outlines but the smallest islets might be formed of paint alone. The continental coastline and that for larger islands might be given a light border tint (*). In some cases, particularly on the work of Benincasa in connection with the British and larger islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea, the edging would be graded with a thinner version of the same wash inside it (*).
      Where name labels were wanted – and these were usually not defined in ink – the colourist had to fashion them by leaving a white space (*). Compass roses, when needed, would be created with ink and colour (*). When required, for example on Catalan-style charts, various geographical features would need to be outlined in ink (perhaps) and then coloured: rivers, mountains, lakes, the Red and Baltic Seas, etc. (*)
Also see above under 'Ink drafting (in colour)'.      

Some procedures might fit in with what had already been done, for example the placement of an illustrative feature in relation to the toponymy, or vice versa. In other cases, a person carrying out one phase would need to anticipate what would come later. For example, when writing in the black names space had to be left for the intermittent red toponyms to follow later. One instance would be the rectangular white label that was left uncoloured for the place-name that would follow or be formed around it afterwards. Another example would be the rare instances when gold leaf was applied to the larger islands. If that was to be done after the toponymy was added, the scribe would presumably have saved himself the trouble of writing those names, since they would be smothered by the gold. However, as I failed to note earlier, the toponymy on the Catalan Atlas for the larger, gold-covered, Mediterranean islands has been carefully written in the sea, observing the usual red and black conventions {This sentence added 20 October 2013}. In her 2007 doctoral thesis, Sandra Sáenz-López Pérez describes and illustrates how space was marked out in the sea on the Catalan Estense world chart [by Roselli] so that the artist could add pictures of sirens and ships. {Sentence added 20 December 2011}

      Examining the Aegean from a copyists' viewpoint identifies the variety of separate operations involved: names written respectively in black or red, islands that were first outlined in black ink and then coloured, as well as dangers that were represented by dots or blobs of red paint [unless some is red ink] with others marked by black ink dots or crosses. The names must have been added at the end, to avoid obscuring hydrographical detail.

Artwork (*)
The borders might be given coloured patterns and the scale bars ornamented. If required, a more experienced artist might finally be called upon to draw and colour flags, wind-heads, town vignettes, rulers with their tents, and other illustrations found on the more sumptuous (usually Catalan) charts. Although the artwork might have been added in-house, since at least four of the Majorcan chartmakers are recorded as painters or miniaturists (see Catherine Hofmann, Hélène Richard & Emmanuelle Vagnon (eds). L'Åge d'or des cartes marines; quand l'Europe découvrait le monde (Paris: Bibliothèque nationale de France & Seuil, 2012) p.62). {This sentence added July 2020}. Atlases might be provided with additional elements, such as calendars, sometimes lavishly treated.

It would naturally be expected that the illustrations were added as a final touch. Nevertheless, the 1367 Pizzigani chart displays a sequence of fort symbols along Italy's Adriatic coast, a few accompanied by a flag, which must have been placed there before the writing stage since the toponyms are broken up around them. [At least this is clear from the c.1849 Jomard facsimile (Les Monuments de la géographie ou recueil d’anciennes cartes européenes et orientales publiées en fac-simile de la grandeur des originaux, Paris, 1842-62), although it cannot be seen from the faded original visible on the Pujades DVD.] {This paragraph added March 2015}

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What had in the past been considered as a tribute to a former master – the wording 'de arte Baptiste Beccarii' on Petrus Roselli's 1447 chart, which had seemed to denote that he had been apprenticed to the Genoese practitioner Battista Beccari (fl.1426-35) – was reinterpreted instead by Pujades as an indication that Roselli was merely following a much-respected model (2007, p.504, note 94; also p.493b). Whether as a former pupil or admirer, Roselli's statement might have suggested he was copying a Beccari chart. However, comparison between the two Battista Beccari charts and the oldest surviving chart of Roselli's does not detect obvious similarities. Beccari was not consistent, though, in his use of colour.

In Italy, although there are several instances of chartmaking succession within a family, we have just a single record of apprenticeship. In 1427, Rafaelino Sarzana was apprenticed to Battista Beccari for eight years [see Pujades, 2007, p.486 and Petti Balbi, 1986] {This instance had been overlooked and was added 6 June 2011} Nor, despite the expected stylistic and toponymic borrowings, are there obvious signs that any of the known chartmakers was taught by one of the others.

Because of the assiduous delving of Catalan historians and the survival of relevant records, much is known about chartmaking in Majorca. The unearthed documents relating to apprenticeship date back to 1368. Unfortunately, although Pujades provides a handy summary (2007, pp.486-7), there are only two documented apprenticeship arrangement between unrelated individuals, bound to practitioners of chartmaking (rather than the related craft of compass-making), who went on to practice themselves. Others either refer to the indenturing of a relative, or the name of the apprentice does not appear again. That could mean one of many different things: that he failed to complete his term; that on completion he moved away from chartmaking; that he did continue in the profession but as a salaried journeyman, whose work was subsumed in that of his employer; or that he did indeed take the large step of setting up on his own and did produce charts, which have either failed to survive or were left unsigned.

The two apprentices who reappear afterwards were Samuel Corcós, a Jew who converted as Macià de Viladesters and was apprenticed (1384-90) to Jafudà Cresques (fl.1382-before 1410), son and heir of Cresques Abraham, the author of the Catalan Atlas, while Arnau Domenech (Domènec) served Petrus Roselli (Pujades, 2007, pp.486-7 & 492-3).

Taking the example of the apprenticeship of Macià de Viladesters to Jafudà Cresques, we might expect to see strong similarities between the pattern of colours and island shapes on late work ascribed to a Cresques atelier and Macià's earliest surviving chart of 1413. In fact, with a number of features not sufficiently legible to be included in the total, I found no more than a 47% match with the Catalan Atlas (c.1375), which had increased only to 60% on the chart which Pujades identified as the latest work from that source (his C 22, 'end 14th century'). Given the inconsistent treatment of C&SA features on works from that supposed Cresques atelier, if Macià had taken a model with him when he completed his apprenticeship, we cannot tell what it would have looked like.

The C&SA readings for Roselli and his former apprentice Domènec show a considerable degree of conformity. Domènec, on his only surviving chart (with its partly illegible date 148?), reproduces 36 Rosellian elements, and includes just six alternative colours, as well as omitting the three cases where Roselli had left an uncoloured strip for the place-name. Details of Domènec's apprenticeship come solely from his authorship inscription, so it is not known when he worked for Roselli, who, despite leaving us nothing later than 1469, is recorded as having died in or before October 1476. {This last comment added 22 January 2013, as a corrective to the previous remark that Roselli had been 'active for a further twenty years beyond that [1469]'. This was taken from Pujades (2007 p.487), but the 1489 death date given there has subsequently been corrected by him, in a forthcoming article}. There could well have been a sizeable gap between Domènec's apprenticeship and the date of his own chart.

Though documentary evidence is still lacking, Pujades found sufficient similarities in the work of 15th-century Catalan practitioners to suggest possible connections between Vallseca, Rafel Soler and Roselli, and perhaps in turn between Roselli and Bertran & Ripoll (2009, pp.315, 329-30). On the findings relating to those individuals, see the relevant C&SA Tables, and also below under Vallseca and Roselli where comparative totals are given.

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It is worth considering the chartmaking arrangements that might have evolved in Venice. As Pujades noted, we know almost nothing about those. Yet Venetians were responsible for 30% of the total known output – even if Vesconte (Genoese in origin) and Benincasa (Anconitan) are excluded. Most of that is from the 15th century and the 28 productions involved are split almost evenly between twelve named and twelve unknown chartmakers [see Table C in Tables of signed, attributed, anonymous and workshop productions (a Microsoft Word document)]. A small number of works, described by Pujades as Venetian and 'Italian' (which may also prove to be Venetian) are assigned by him to the first quarter of the 15th century, another ten such productions are attributed to the period 1425-50, but none at all to the third quarter. If that is a true reflection of the pattern of production in Venice it would indicate a sudden, short-lived and hitherto unexplained flourishing of the craft in that city. Alternatively, with the lack of any noticeable hydrographical or other development in that period (or presumably the need for such) some of those difficult-to-date works may indicate continued copying of old models well into the second half of the 15th century.

The detailed comments on the unattributed works (described below) are summarised in Table B of Tables of signed, attributed, anonymous and workshop productions (a Microsoft Word document). Following up Pujades's lead about strong similarities between two or more works, presumably on toponymic grounds, these were confirmed by the C&SA. However, those results are ambiguous. On the one hand several typical, and usually exclusive, Venetian conventions can be identified. But, on the other, there is no evidence of rigid conformity. Instead, there were obvious differences, with some features unique to one practitioner. Nor is the handwriting the same. So these seem to be the work of different chartmakers, not working under one master's direction but nevertheless sharing distinctive elements.

Is it possible that this might point to some form of 'co-operative' in Venice – joint workshops used by independent chartmakers, rather like craftsmen today? Perhaps they shared chart exemplars. And, if so, could that explain similar toponymy and outlines (copied from the models) but different chromatic signatures, perhaps designed to distinguish their work from that of their colleagues? Pujades considered that two of those Venetian charts (C 10 & C 11) 'either issued from the same production centre or were fashioned by two makers who shared the same sources' (2007 p.490b). Might that, indirectly, be saying the same thing?

If there were semi-mass production 'factories', producing the large quantities of cheap charts Pujades asserts were needed could they have been anywhere other than Venice? Particularly for the strictly functional charts which constituted much of their output anyway. There is a temptation to suggest that this significant output of unsigned work might represent intervention by the state, through one or more workshops in which the stages of production could have been divided among those with different specialist skills. If so, that might help to explain why none is signed or, with the single exception of the Luxoro Atlas (by Cesanis), none can be plausibly attributed to any of the known Venetian chartmakers of the period.

The following, from a re-reading of Astengo (2007(a) pp.212-3), makes the state-intervention suggestion above less likely: "From the middle of the fifteenth century onward, the Republic had instituted a number of magistratures or public offices whose authorities made wide use of maps in the exercise of territorial control. However, there never seems to have been a state workshop for the production of nautical charts, nor did Venice adopt the Genoese system of relying on a private workshop subject to state control." {This paragraph added 12 September 2011}

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In a few cases it is possible to argue that an 'anonymous' work should be firmly attributed to a known individual because of its conformity to his known work, and to further argue that it would almost certainly have originally carried a signature, whose expected position would have been on part of the chart now trimmed away. Examples are two cut-down charts by Benincasa (Pujades C 74 & C 75) [on which see Colour and shape on the productions of Benincasa's successors and imitators (a Microsoft Word document)], and the chart in Modena that would almost certainly have had a Roselli signature (C 72) [see here]. It is reasonable to include those three charts with some confidence in the list of surviving signed works.

A policy decision may explain why the three (?) members of the Cresques family known to have practised as chartmakers did not sign any of the six charts attributed to them by Pujades (2007 p.309). One of those works is the most sumptuous of all early productions, the Catalan Atlas. Its presentational purpose would be sufficient reason for withholding a signature, just as two of the three surviving copies of an atlas that Vesconte prepared for Marino Sanudo [Sanuto] to present to Pope John XXII are unsigned.

Another category might be the basic, unadorned charts. They could well have remained unsigned because they gave no credit to the master responsible (rather as a respectable publisher today may have a different imprint for popular work), or the middleman might have insisted on anonymity.

A further reason for preferring anonymity might be in cases where the author was engaged in an immoral, if not illegal, act, namely copying, and perhaps selling, the work of another, for which reason he might not wish to draw attention to himself.

It is argued above in 'How would the productions of an atelier be different from those of the master himself?' that some of the other unsigned, supposed 'atelier' works should instead be seen as the productions of the master himself. Those involved are Dulceti, R. Soler and Ziroldi. Since there are strong grounds for rejecting the supposed association of some other works with those individuals, and instead considering them the products of hitherto unidentified chartmakers, we are (if my judgement is accepted) left to explain why those three, along with Francesco de Cesanis who failed to sign his 'Luxoro Atlas', should have released some works with their signature and some without. In the case of Ziroldi, this involves four out what now seem to be his nine surviving works. Since there are no obvious differences between them, we can only speculate as to the reason for this. Likewise, two unsigned charts plausibly assigned to a Vallseca atelier seem to fit neatly into the sequence of his signed and dated charts.

Portolan chart researchers are faced with a sizeable body of unsigned work and a small number of people known to have been apprenticed to a chartmaker (of itself no guarantee that they became practitioners themselves) or recorded as practising that trade, without any surviving work being reliably attributed to them. Because of the work of Catalan historians, the evidence available thus far relates to Majorca or Barcelona. Yet most of the unsigned work is considered to be Venetian, though there were at least three Genoese chartmakers operating anonymously in the first half of the 14th century. This advises against what is often a reflex reaction, by both scholars and auction houses, to attribute an anonymous work to one of the practitioners already known, when the evidence to support that is slender at best. This tendency should be strongly resisted. While it may help a chart's saleability to give it such an imprimatur and, by extension, a more confident dating, it does not advance scholarship. It is easy to make an attribution, which will probably be repeated thereafter; it is much harder to remove such from the literature.

Leaving aside those individuals named just above, as well as members of the Cresques family, it looks as if the other known chartmakers habitually signed their work. All the evidence points to this being true for the most prolific practitioner, Grazioso Benincasa. In my opinion, there are no further works that can be plausibly attributed to a named chartmaker (though provision of the scans missing from the Pujades DVD, or sharper versions of the few poor quality ones, might perhaps reveal further links).

For a discussion of these issues in the 16th century or later see 'Workshops,
individual production, and anonymous charts' in Astengo (2007, pp.189-91)

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Underlying the discussion above about hypothetical, multi-staffed ateliers and the question of whether an unsigned work should be attributed to an individual chartmaker or seen instead as a collective effort, is the issue of copies produced by others. It has never been suggested, as far as I know, that anybody set out to forge the work of an established chartmaker by reproducing with care all the features that comprise his 'visual signature'. Certainly, there have been attempts in the last two centuries (during which time such works have been commercially collected) for the dates of manuscript maps to be tampered with, so as to make them seem older. The 1473 Benincasa atlas is a good example [on which see A note on the roman date of the 1473 British Library atlas].

Of course, if a forgery is good enough we may not have detected it. However, even if somebody with the appropriate skills, and access to the right patterns, had chosen to produce a faithful imitation, including the master's signature – and, I repeat, we have no evidence of that – then how would they have managed to reap any financial reward that the master's reputation might command? Charts would presumably have been sold directly from the master's work-place, or via reputable middlemen, so breaking into that market would have been very difficult.

It was necessary to dispose of the distant possibility of forgery before considering other copies and imitations. Is there documentary evidence for these? Probably not, just as there is little such authority for most matters relating to chartmaking.

But is it likely that copies were made of the work of established chartmakers, with or without authorisation? The answer must be yes, in the light of one of the best strands of historical evidence available to us, namely human nature. There will always be people who wish to capitalise on the creativity of others and almost all chartmaking was little more than copying anyway. So what form might such hypothetical copies take and how might they be recognised?

It is probable that anybody who produced an illicit ('pirated') copy would wish to disguise the subterfuge. Such copies are therefore likely to reproduce unimaginatively the content of a genuine work, perhaps by a leading practitioner, but then give it a different appearance. A well-educated and more thoughtful copyist might be a little more creative, for example by 'translating' into his own language or dialect certain place-names, perhaps those of saints as well as geographical terms such as cape or island. This would make sense if the copyist was aiming at a different market to that of the original chartmaker.

The simplest form of copy would be purely reproductive. Whether from lack of incentive or skill, nothing would be changed. Some illustrative elements, particularly those that could betray the chart's model, might be omitted – for that very reason, or to save time and effort. If such a copy was 'authorised', for example because it was the work of a former apprentice who had set up on his own with his master's blessing (or, indeed, even without it) the imitator might wish to establish his own visual signature.

What can be of value for a modern historian, apart from the obvious style features, are small details concerning the incidence and spelling of place-names, as well as the visual and chromatic signatures. Since those are invisible until close inspection, we can be confident that they give true pointers to the nature of a work's origin, if not necessarily its precise authorship.

Because much of Benincasa's career took place after the cut-off date of 1469 used for the scans on the Pujades DVD, few of the works for which Benincasa has been suggested as the author or model have been reproduced [see Benincasa, his successors and imitators]. However, two, the atlases in Parma and Rotterdam respectively, are clearly based on Benincasa's work and, equally clearly, are the work of someone not directly connected with him. Their C&SA profiles [Colour and shape on the productions of Benincasa's successors and imitators (a Microsoft Word document)], when compared with the habitual Benincasan forms in the right-hand column of the table, show marked similarities in the island shapes and include some treatments of the mythical Atlantic islands that are unique to Benincasa and his acknowledged successors.

As demonstrated by the slavish devotion to the Benincasan outlines and conventions (if not always the colour choices) shown by Grazioso's son Angelo and the members of the Freducci family, they must have been directly taught by Benincasa or by someone who had been so taught. Instead, what betrays the Parma and Rotterdam atlases as being unauthorised copies are their variations from some of the invariable Benincasan conventions.

Interestingly, given that the Rotterdam author must have had a genuine Benincasan work or one by the Freduccis, in front of him, its unique Baltic sheet and unusual arrangement of the Cape Verde Islands presumably reproduce details from a lost Benincasa atlas – even though that interpretation does present problems [see Benincasa: 'Cape Verde Islands'].

Thus we can be fairly sure that the creators of the Parma and Rotterdam atlases set out to produce literal copies of the content, but not the style and appearance of a Benincasa atlas. In so doing they must have been paying tribute to Benincasa's reputation. They did not sign their works – although the Parma atlas has an intriguing erased inscription just where Benincasa used to write his signature – and so they were not trying to gain personal credit. Nevertheless, their failure to reproduce all the prominent Benincasan features might have been an attempt to disguise their borrowings.

Other works which may be copies by someone unconnected with the original author, are two unsigned charts attributed by Pujades to Roselli (his C 70, Paris, BnF C5096; and C 71, Beinecke Library). If their overall toponymy matches that of signed Roselli charts this may point to the origin of their models, but the C&SA findings reduce the likelihood of any direct connection with Roselli himself [for the detailed reasons see below, under Roselli]. The creator of the Paris chart has taken trouble to establish his own visual signature with a unique treatment of the British Isles headings. That chart's narrow focus on just the western Mediterranean means that it excludes most of the C&SA features. However, the Yale chart, which looks like a Roselli work, has sufficient variations from that practitioner's invariable conventions to show that it is unlikely to have been produced under his supervision.

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References in the head-notes:

The square-bracketed numbers at the beginning of each entry refer to the listing in B. Table of unsigned charts and atlases up to 1469 with comments on their suggested attribution (a Microsoft Word document)

The square-bracketed numbers after a geographical name refer to the listing in the The features chosen to illustrate the varied portrayal of islands and estuaries on portolan charts up to 1469

The Pujades numbers refer to Les cartes portolanes (Barcelona, 2007) pp. 63-70

The Campbell numbers refer to 'Census of Pre-Sixteenth-Century Portolan Charts', Imago Mundi: the International Journal for the History of Cartography 38 (1986): 67-94. 'Name analysis' refers to Tony Campbell, 'Portolan Charts from the Late Thirteenth Century to 1500'. The History of Cartography. Volume 1 (University of Chicago Press, 1987), pp. 415-20 [available online in pdf format since June 2011]

References in the descriptive notes:

For references to the Colour & Shape Analysis see the C&SA Menu – from which you can access the 13 Microsoft Word tables – and particularly: Summary table of the features analysed (a Microsoft Word document)

For a summary of the findings set out on this page see Tables of signed, attributed, anonymous and workshop productions (a Microsoft Word document) and the Conclusions page

For the full bibliogaphical references see the Bibliography


Fourteenth Century


Earliest Italian works [1-2]
(not included in the 'Colour & Shape Analysis' (C&SA))

[1]. Paris, BnF. B 1118
'Carte Pisane'
Pujades C 1: Italian, end 13th century
Campbell 14

[2]. Cortona, Bib.dell'Accad.Etrusca
'Cortona Chart'
Pujades C 2: Italian, beginning 14th century
Campbell 62; name analysis (1987 p.416, No.10)

For transcriptions of the names on these two charts see:

Listing and analysis of portolan chart toponyms along the continuous coastline from Dunkirk to Mogador (early 14th to late 17th century) including the transcribed names from the 'Liber de existencia riveriarum' and 'Lo compasso de navegare' as well as the Carte Pisane and Cortona chart
(an Excel spreadsheet)

For both works see A detailed reassessment of the Carte Pisane: a late and inferior copy, or the lone survivor from the portolan charts' formative period? (March 2015) and Brief notes on the main documents discussed.

These are generally considered to be the two oldest surviving charts – in terms of their cartographic development, even if one or both prove to be a later copy. Their rhumb networks have features not found on later charts (see Pujades, 2007 p.476). In each case the outer circle (usually visible thereafter, if at all, only as a line scraped by one arm of a pair of dividers) is here inked in red. The Cortona chart is unique in using a different colour for the two networks, black (?) for the left and red for the right (as Vera Armignacco pointed out (1957, p.189)). Armignacco also drew attention to other features found only on the Carte Pisane and Cortona chart (see, e.g., p.190). She also highlighted (p.188) a unique feature of the Cortona chart, namely the lack of red names in the Black Sea and along the European Atlantic coast. She also drew attention to the scarcity of toponyms around the (much-enlarged) Sea of Azov. For a note on the archaic scales of the Carte Pisane and Cortona chart see Pujades (2007, p. 481).

Considering the Carte Pisane and Cortona chart together also makes sense, because they, alone, have none of the colour elaboration that is the subject of the Colour & Shape Analysis (as pointed out by Pujades, 2007, p. 481b). However, they are not monochrome. Each uses red in the rhumb line network and for prominent names. The Cortona chart may also use the expected green in the network, though this cannot be confirmed from the scan. The Carte Pisane certainly does, which rules out the possibility that only red had survived, from whatever colour might have originally been applied.

The Cortona chart has considerable light brown staining. However, on the basis of the circle surrounding its scale, which certainly has a cream tint, it is possible that some of its coastlines were edged in the same colour (for example, Corsica) while Sicily may conceivably have a light overall wash [C&SA Nos 25-6]. If so, those would be precursors of what is first seen on the work of Dalorto/Dulceti and the untypical 14th-century Genoese atlas in Paris (MS Lat. 4850, Pujades A 9).

Ramon Pujades (personal communication 14 May 2010) drew my attention to the different colours used for ink (e.g. rhumb lines) and the illumination that would have been added with a brush. Each would have had a different composition and have been applied in a different way. The possible wash on the Cortona chart is therefore significant, since its presence would indicate that its author had the materials to hand with which to colour the islands.

The drafting materials available to their creators may also have bearing on the treatment of navigational dangers. The Carte Pisane and Cortona chart include a few instances of the black cross used to denote a rock, though there seems to be little or no agreement in their position. The one to the south of Italy that the Carte Pisane's author had marked with 'guardate' (twice) is not noted on the Cortona chart. Both present shoals, for example in the Tunisian Gulf of Gabès, but use black stippling where Vesconte in 1311, and the early Genoese chart in the Riccardiana Library, Florence (Pujades C 4), would introduce the red colouring that became habitual thereafter.

With colour ruled out here for diagnostic purposes, what about shape? Overall, confirming what has already been noted for the larger landmasses – the British Isles and Italy, for example – the two unsigned charts have outlines for the smaller islands that are similar to one another and less well formed than those found on Vesconte's first chart of 1311 (even if the latter's shapes are themselves largely unrealistic). This can be seen, for instance, in the Rhône and Nile deltas and in the outlines of Malta and Gozo. Neither of these two anonymous charts has any of the distinguishing features noted on later work.

See also Explanatory notes and wider implications ('Islands') for comments about the non-specific shapes given on these two charts to islands that, from Vesconte onwards, would be given distinctive outlines, e.g. Zakynthos, Limnos and Skyros [35, 36 & 39], and for further comparative comments see below Genoese, first quarter 14th century.

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Vesconte [3-4]
(for the detailed Colour & Shape Analysis findings see here – a Microsoft Word document)

[3]. Vatican, Vat. Lat. 2972
Pujades A 6: Vesconte workshop, c.1321
Campbell 157; name analysis (1987 p.416)

[4]. London, British Library, Add. MS.27376*
Pujades A 8: Vesconte workshop, c.1325 [or 1330?]
Campbell 49; name analysis (1987 p.416)

These two five-chart atlases need to be directly compared to the work of the Vescontes, with their suggested datings placing them in the later period of Vescontian activity. Pujades proposes that the two unsigned works were workshop productions, rather than from the hand of either Pietro or Perrino. Both are examples of a promotional work, 'Liber Secretorum Fidelium Crucis', presented to Pope John XXII in September 1321 in an attempt to advance Marino Sanudo [Sanuto]'s campaign for a further crusade.

If Vatican 2972 and British Library 27376* were produced in a Vesconte workshop, in other words under the close supervision and required approval of (presumably) Pietro, should we not expect the work to be broadly indistinguishable (apart perhaps from the handwriting) from productions of the Vescontes themselves? And if the Vescontes did have proper apprentices - professionals in the making – then what happened to them afterwards? There is no anonymous Italian work from the middle years of the 14th century that could be identified as the production of a Vesconte successor, though the Black Death could well explain that.

What can be done, however, is to test, for each of these unsigned atlases, how closely they conform to the Vesconte 'house style'. So what do we find?

Vesconte was the first (or among the first) to use colour to distinguish islands and deltas. Not surprisingly, therefore, he was not generally consistent in his colour decisions but he does seem to have settled on preferred tones for a number of features by about 1318. Testing the two atlases proposed for atelier status against the assured Vesconte work finds nothing to doubt that they were made under the direct supervision of Pietro. Indeed, the findings of the Colour & Shape Analysis and the works' toponymy indicate that they should be placed within a single Vescontian developmental sequence, rather than being distinguished in any way from their signed productions. It has to be recognised, though, that the question of the dating of Add. 27376* is not straightforward.

The dating of British Library Add. 27376*

{This section added 11 February 2012 (with revisions October 2013)}
There are a number of surviving exemplars of Marino Sanudo's 'Liber Secretorum Fidelium Crucis'. Three - two of them in the Vatican (Pal. Lat. 1362A and Vat. Lat. 2972) as well as the British Library's Add. 27376* - incorporate a portolan atlas, in addition to a grid map of Palestine. While the first of those three may date from 1320 (the possibly truncated date it bears), the others were produced no earlier than 1321. However, the presence of letters within examples of the 'Liber Secretorum', some carrying dates up to 1332, help or hinder the dating of their respective volumes. Unless it is clear that the letter in question and the accompanying charts were created at the same time, the letter's date may be misleading.

In the case of Add. 27376* the letter is dated 1330, a fact I had previously overlooked (see Degenhart & Schmitt, 1973, pp.12-16, 21-7, particularly p.24). However, as Paul Harvey has shown (private communications, September-November 2011, based on the manuscript draft of his book on medieval maps of the Holy Land) the maps and charts are written on a different quire to the main text, and the letter on a separate one again, as is the case with other surviving exemplars. In other words, the cartographic material might have been prepared earlier, in preparation for what seems to have been a fairly large demand for copies of the 'Liber Secretorum'.

The preceding comments are relevant when it comes to reviewing the suggested date of c.1325 for Add. 27376*, and specifically, on developmental grounds, its relationship to the chart signed by Perrino Vesconte in 1327 (Pujades C 5). Their toponymy and one small visual feature seem to corroborate that those two are the latest surviving Vescontian works.

By 1318, Vesconte had elaborated the impressionistic arrangement of land formations in the Danube delta to form five 'islands' [41-2]. One large circle, along with three or four small, full or half circles, was set into those. Two of those smaller shapes were left uncoloured on a sequence of five Vesconte works dated or assigned to the period 1318-21. Alone on the British Library Sanudo atlas and on the dated chart of 1327 all four of those insets were stippled in red. Since it is probable that the outlines of deltas would have formed part of the workshop pattern used to transfer the coastlines, as distinct from any subsidiary outlines that might have been added freehand, this would seem to indicate the introduction of an amended coastal model around 1318.

It is certainly possible that Add.27376* might be later than 1327 and indeed a single creation of 1330. But it was the toponymic investigation in the 1980s that had led to the suggested date of c.1325 (i.e. near the mid-point between 1321 and 1327). At that time, 36 names were first identified on Add. 27376* (on the basis of a 1325 dating) but three names were found uniquely on the 1327 chart. A more recent analysis in 2011, refining the earlier study and benefitting from the newly-provided remote access to the entire Vescontian oeuvre via the Pujades DVD, found extra place-names that threw light on this question of priority between the 27376* volume and the 1327 chart. In September 2013, a still broader toponymic listing was published, one which reached beyond the original focus on 'Significant names'. The Listing and analysis of portolan chart toponyms along the continuous coastline from Dunkirk to Mogador (early 14th to late 17th century) (an Excel spreadsheet) identified further innovations on the two works under consideration.

In all, 54 names were first seen on those two works, if considered together. How many of them appear on one but not the other?

The details of sheets preserved in a volume are usually in better condition than those on an unprotected loose chart. And so it is here, where the writing has sometimes faded to illegibility. As a result, it was not possible in several cases to determine if a name was present on the 1327 chart. With that proviso, the following twelve names proved to be relevant since they alone are not found in both instances.

British Library Add. 27376* and the 1327 Perrino Vesconte chart compared

Geog. sort


BL Add. 27376*

1327 chart











but shown off the coast in 1327


La Mesa de Roldan (mensa)





R. Almanzora



variant of margo / mazor expected; word in correct position here beginning with 'm'


C. di Faro













foxo[m] read by Pujades (2007) p.367


San Piero



Pujades (2007) p.359


porto longo





p. longa da bona










p. cavaler[= Rogoznica?]



Pujades (2007) p.351; but misplaced by 14 names

These findings, based on an admittedly small sample, need to be set into the broader context of the Vescontian output. As indicated in The addition of 'Significant Names' to the 31 sections of coastline (tables) (a Microsoft Word document) [see the first, detailed table], Pietro, and perhaps later Perrino, added additional toponyms on a regular basis, e.g. 40 names in 1313 that cannot be seen on the chart of 1311, then more in 1318 (73 names), then 1320-c.22, considered together (44), and finally 38 names at the end of the Vescontes' output. Of those, four names appear uniquely on 27376*, a work apparently put together (perhaps from disparate elements) in 1330, while eight (with varying degrees of confidence) can be identified as unique additions to the Perrino Vesconte chart, securely dated 1327.

One of the 27376* names, Redondela, is a small harbour on the Bay of Vigo, which would be picked up again on the next dated Italian chart, that by the Pizzigani in 1367. However another, p.cavaler, is more problematic. This was identified by Kretschmer (1909, p.628) as Rogoznica in Dalmatia. For its appearance on 27376* – assuming that the same coastal settlement is intended – it is misplaced from just south of Sebenico to a position north of Segna, a jump of fourteen names. Although the sequence of toponyms along the eastern Adriatic was often erratic, it is hard to see how a chartmaker from nearby Venice would have made such a massive error. Again, this name was picked up by the Pizzigani, but correctly positioned. Five of the names were included by Dalorto/Dulceti in 1330 – Nos 200, 320, 323, 480 & 801 - though that is unlikely to help this discussion.

The Danube delta treatment mentioned above corroborates these toponymic findings in confirming that these two works are both distinct from all the earlier productions and at the same time close to one another. While the suggested date of 1325 for 27376* was no more than a rough estimate, it seems logical to argue for a 'situation' date for 27376* prior to 1327, even if its charts were bound up or even drawn after that date. It would have been uncharacteristic for either Vesconte to have introduced those eight names in 1327 and then ignored them in a work produced in 1330, though that leaves unexplained the four names missing from the 1327 chart. So, while not denying the possibility, even likelihood, that the portolan charts in 27376* were first released in 1330, it seems reasonable to continue to place those, in developmental terms, earlier than the chart of 1327.

If, on the other hand, 27376* needs to be dated to 1330, further questions are raised. While it was known that other versions of the 'Liber Secretorum' were being produced (or their accompanying letters written) as late as 1332, those contained maps of the Holy Land but not the sea charts. The portolan chart sheets were based on the Vescontes' standard productions but, as demonstrated above, that component, of the 'Liber' was not static. 27376* clearly represents a later stage of geographical and toponymic development than that seen in the earlier exemplars of the 'Liber'. However, with no dated standard works between 1321 and 1327, we can only speculate when that final stage was reached.

If 27376* should be seen as a work of 1330 then it extends the accepted period of Vescontian output (presumably Perrino's) by at least three years. A complete transcription of all the Vescontian names - rather than just a check for the incidence of the 'Significant Names' – would have been necessary to give a complete picture of Pietro and Perrino's activity. Nevertheless, since it was precisely this work that was chosen as a late example in the original analysis of the 1980s, and all its names were recorded, we can be confident that it embodies no further innovations (if a 1330 date is favoured) than the two noted above.

{The above paragraphs embody new thoughts on the dating of the British Library atlas, further revised in October 2013. I am grateful for comments from both Paul Harvey and Ramon Pujades.}

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First quarter 14th century [5]
(for the detailed Colour & Shape Analysis findings see here – a Microsoft Word document)

[5]. Florence, Bib. Riccardiana 3827
Pujades C 4: Genoese, first quarter 14th century, see also 2007, pp.489a, 490b
Campbell 80 – not included in the name analysis, because then considered to be a 15th-century work (1987, p.416)

See A detailed reassessment of the Carte Pisane: a late and inferior copy, or the lone survivor from the portolan charts'
formative period?
(March 2015) and Brief notes on the main documents discussed.

On the basis of features first noted on Vesconte's work, it is suggested that this chart, identified by Pujades as one of the earliest, may even precede Vesconte's of 1311.

Specific early features on the Riccardiana chart:

  • Paxos [31] is given the shape of a capital K, which is otherwise seen only on Vesconte
  • Fasso [47], on the east coast of the Black Sea, is conveyed as a circle – a rare form also found on the 1330 Dalorto/Dulceti chart
  • The Nile delta's eastern island [50] is divided in two, which is otherwise found only on Vesconte

Unless the 1330 Dalorto/Dulceti chart – or the early productions of Vesconte, a Genoese working in Venice – is considered to represent 'Genoese' work, this Riccardiana chart seems to be the earliest surviving chart from that city, with no others assigned by Pujades to the first quarter of the 14th century. The lack of equivalent material therefore makes comment difficult. However, it can at least be compared with the other works just mentioned.

While the Riccardiana chart seems generally later, in developmental terms, than the Carte Pisane and Cortona chart, and earlier than the work of Dalorto/Dulceti, its relationship to the work of Vesconte is unclear.

For example, in contrast to the shapeless blocks for Malta and Gozo found on both the Carte Pisane and Cortona chart, this has an outline (a little similar to an upside down letter 'm'), as found on Vesconte's work (certainly by 1318) and in a more pronounced form on the 1330 Dalorto/Dulceti.

In the Nile delta the word 'damiata' [51] is written as a single entity, but with the first two letters placed on the island. That has echoes of the work of Dalorto/Dulceti (who broke the name into two distinct parts) and may indicate the Riccardiana as a direct or indirect model for Dalorto.

In some other respects, such as the treatment of the Rhône and Nile deltas, the 'K' shape given to the Ionian island of Paxos, and the 'space rocket' shape of Zakynthos, the Riccardiana chart shares features found on Vesconte's chart of 1311.

In contrast to those similarities with the work of the two earliest named chartmakers, there are other features on the Riccardiana chart that distance it from both Vesconte and Dalorto/Dulceti. The shapes of the Aegean islands are unlike those found on their work. The Riccardiana's rectangular shape for Skyros, for example, is similar to the Carte Pisane's, and its simplified Limnos is quite unlike the distinctive outlines offered by Vesconte (in 1318 - it was not possible to make out the shape on the 1311 and 1313 works) and by Dalorto/Dulceti (1330).

At this point it is appropriate to introduce the partial chart recently discovered in the Archivio di Stato, Lucca, which has been described by Philipp Billion for the first time in the January 2011 issue of Imago Mundi: the International Journal for the History of Cartography (63: 1, pp. 1-21). It is an intriguing and highly unusual chart, some of whose major questions remain to be fully answered. Its first commentator makes a bold claim that it is among the oldest of the survivors and, in any event, unlikely to be later than 1327. Some justification for this claim is supported by the C&SA data, which identify a number of apparently early features on the Lucca chart. The islands are picked out in just two colours, red and blue, a few of the toponyms link it to the Carte Pisane (though some are otherwise found later) and variants of its generally simplified rectangular island shapes are otherwise found only on the Carte Pisane, Cortona chart or the Riccardiana chart discussed here. For a preliminary analysis of the Lucca chart see Census: Extra charts (E.22). For the Lucca chart see also A detailed reassessment of the Carte Pisane: a late and inferior copy, or the lone survivor from the portolan charts' formative period? (March 2015) and Brief notes on the main documents discussed.

The Carte Pisane (apart from some squared extensions) and the Cortona chart have rhumb networks that are entirely contained within the outer circles. The Riccardiana's network extends only partially beyond the circles, so that parts of the English and Palestine coastline are not provided with compass directions. The 1311 Vesconte chart treats Palestine in the same way.

The Riccardiana's Black Sea outlines, particularly around the Dnipro estuary and Crimea, are equally unlike those found on any of the earliest surviving charts. It is not possible to read the Carte Pisane at that point but the Cortona chart and Riccardiana are both in forms less developed than those found on the 1311 Vesconte chart, which would be generally adopted thereafter. Neither Cortona nor Riccardiana includes the long west-east island/sandbar, nor is the large bay (Karkinits'ka Zatoka) that shapes the western side of the Crimean peninsula understood.

Apart from clear signs of primitiveness in its outlines, the Riccardiana chart has some unexpected application of colour. Ibiza [19] and Malta [28] both appear to be coloured gold. No other 14th-century examples of that are known.

Based on these visual elements alone, without giving the necessary weight to palaeological and toponymic aspects, there seem to be good grounds for placing this chart towards the earlier end of the period suggested by Pujades, 1300-25. We need to appreciate our debt to him for bringing this chart into consideration in a discussion of the early development of portolan charts. Until he examined it, the chart languished (unpublished) under the general, and thoroughly misleading label of 'fifteenth century'. As a result, it had never been properly studied or reproduced.

Leaving the handwriting aside, since I am not qualified to comment on that, what can be learnt from the Riccardiana's toponymy? Pujades had already noted that 'the coastal toponyms amount to fewer than 1,300 as opposed to the over 1,700 in the 1327 chart of Perrino Vesconte or the over 1,600 in that of Angelino de Dulceto, from 1330' (2007, p.447, note 4). Because I had been misled by previous commentators in considering this unseen work as from the 15th century I did not include it in my 1987 toponymic analysis. Nor has my renewed place-name study yet reached the point of dealing with anonymous works. But Pujades's invaluable in-depth analysis of names for the Valencian and Adriatic coasts on pre-1469 works (2007, pp. 350-97) does reveal how the Florence chart relates to the other early survivors. The results can be summed up as follows. For Valencia, the Riccardiana includes all but one of the names found on Vesconte's atlas of 1313 (the date of his first surviving work to cover that coastline). A few names were to be added on the late Vesconte productions but they are not found here. One of the Riccardiana's names, palamos, is directly linked to the Carte Pisane, since it does not appear on the Cortona chart or on the work of Vesconte until about 1325.

Moving to the larger toponymic sampling in the Adriatic – and here Vesconte's first chart of 1311 does become relevant – we find that the Riccardiana includes seven of the names first included by Vesconte in 1311 but omits six others. Of the 25 later Vescontian innovations just two, maiavacha and fogara, appear on the Florence chart. Each of those was added in 1318, one appearing only on the Vienna atlas and the other only on the Venice one. Since Vesconte added a total of eleven Adriatic names in 1318, it is clear that the Riccardiana chart was not imitating those, or any subsequent work by Vesconte. One of the names the Ricciardiana does include, lo XVIII, is indicative since it was dropped by Vesconte between 1313 and 1325.

Pujades had concluded that the Riccardiana was 'one of the oldest extant documents of this kind' (2007, p.447, note 4). Nothing in the current note throws the slightest doubt on that. But can we refine the place of the Florence chart in the early developmental history of the portolan charts [with the stress on 'developmental' underlying that that may not be the same as its date of construction]? In particular can we clarify the Riccardiana's relationship to the Carte Pisane, the Cortona chart and the early work of Pietro Vesconte? Indeed, might the Riccardiana pre-date the 1311 Vesconte chart, with all the reassessment that would entail?

The assured facts seem to be these. The Riccardiana's hand is evidently not Vesconte's, nor that of the Carte Pisane or the Cortona chart. Nor can it be matched with the hands of the four anonymous charts described by Pujades as Genoese and datable to the second quarter of the 14th century, which are discussed briefly below [Genoese second quarter 14th century].

With the Carte Pisane, Cortona chart, Vesconte and the Riccardiana we therefore have four distinct chartmakers (three of them unknown) working independently at the very end of the 13th or the first part of the 14th century. To ask what part Genoa played in this early history is not to re-open the nationalistic floodgates. But if one or more of those chartmakers was co-active in that city it is inconceivable that they would have been unaware of each other's work and, potentially, ready to borrow from one another.

Vesconte was certainly Genoese, since he invariably describes himself as 'from Genoa'. On two occasions only (the first in 1318) he extended that usual formula to say that the present work was drawn 'in Venice'. Thus one (but only one) of the two 1318 atlases (the one now preserved in Venice) bears the authorship inscription: 'Petrus Vessconte de Janua fecit istam tabula i Venecia ano dni M CCC XVIII'. We have no direct evidence that the 1311 chart and 1313 atlas were also produced in Venice, but it seems unlikely that Vesconte would have used the wording 'from Genoa' if he was still working there. But was 'from Genoa' perhaps a way of drawing attention to the place where he had learnt his craft? There are no signs of any chartmaking in Venice before Vesconte – indeed, besides him, the earliest dated or assigned Venetian work belongs to the second half of the 14th century – and if Genoa was the birthplace of the portolan charts, by 1311 the expression 'from Genoa' might have been a way of exploiting the reputation enjoyed by practitioners from that city.

Whether Dalorto/Dulceti was Genoese or Catalan, Pujades, who picks his way carefully through the nationalistic minefield, is ready to conclude that, whatever the answer to the origin question, and leaving aside the fact that in 1339 Dulceti was definitely working in Majorca, there is 'no room for doubt about the Genoese provenance of his cartographic-toponymic pattern' (2007, p.491c). Another contemporary, Giovanni da Carignano, whose chart/map was destroyed in World War II and cannot now be studied in detail, was a Genoese priest. In other words – and perhaps leaving aside the Carte Pisane and the Cortona chart – it is quite possible that all those who were working (or presumed to have been working) up to the time of the hiatus in the middle of the 14th century (probably caused by the Black Death) were, in terms of origin and training at least, Genoese.

Just as we could expect close interchange between those working beside the harbour of Genoa, and their relatively convenient neighbours in Majorca, so we can perhaps assume that Vesconte, once established at the head of the Adriatic, would have less contact with his former Ligurian colleagues. Given the extent that the early refinement of the portolan charts – most noticeably as regards the British Isles but more extensively in terms of toponymic additions – has been entirely ascribed to Vesconte, his removal to Venice seems to have weakened the interchange of place-names at least. Why else would Dalorto/Dulceti have added 80 new (and subsequently repeated) names in 1330 on top of the 120 that the Vescontes had introduced between 1313 and 1327?

I suggest these considerations are relevant when we return to the attempt to 'place' the Riccardiana. Might it not represent an earlier stage in portolan chart development than the first surviving works of Vesconte? The inconclusive evidence that can be offered for this surprising, if tentative, suggestion is as follows:

British Isles
Since the Cortona chart is incomplete at the west, any part of the English coast it might have included has disappeared. Vesconte's chart of 1311 did not extend this far, thus the relevant sheet in his atlas of 1313 is the oldest surviving work to offer a realistic outline of England's south coast. The Carte Pisane's simple rectangular form had just six names, including Cornwall (denoting the whole south-west region), a very misplaced London and the 'island of England'. By contrast, Vesconte marked out a coastline that showed the Thames estuary and the Isle of Wight in their correct places, and provided 33 inland names. [For that and later developments see the composite illustration in Pujades (2007, p. 309) – NB read down the page).]

While broadly similar to Vesconte's 1313 outline, and like that showing an awareness of the Cornish peninsula, the Riccardiana chart has fewer inland names, just 18. The south coast selection is much the same in each case but Vesconte includes two west coast names, Chepstow and the important port of Bristol. On the east coast, where the Riccardiana has a single name north of the Thames, Vesconte has eleven. For some at least of those there would have been space within the limits the Riccardiana's author set himself. Developmentally, then, the Riccardiana appears to represent a stage slightly earlier than that of the 1313 Vesconte atlas.

Island shapes
Of the three islands whose distinctive shapes have been noted, Zakynthos in the Ionian group has an outline on the Riccardiana chart similar to that being developed on the early Vesconte work (though the scans are not clear). But in the Aegean, notably with Skyros and Limnos, the Riccardiana offers, for the first, a highly simplified outline similar to that found on the Carte Pisane and, for the second, a form not apparently found elsewhere. If the Riccardiana had a common origin with the work of Vesconte then its depiction of Skyros shows that the model involved must pre-date 1311.

Black Sea
The sea's northern shore, between the Danube delta and the Crimea, is a fertile area for elements helpful in diagnosing early portolan chart development. In this case the Riccardiana is far closer in its unsophisticated outlines to the Cortona chart than to the 1311 Vesconte.

An overall analysis will be made later of the incidence of 'significant' names on the Riccardiana. But, from Pujades's work on Valencia and the Adriatic there is little evidence indicating a date after 1313. Indeed, it may point the other way. That the Riccardiana includes all but one of the three Valencian names first noted in the 1313 Vesconte atlas may not have much significance. Since that area was omitted from the 1311 chart it means that, for Valencia, we cannot tell what Vesconte knew in 1311. And, for the Adriatic, the fact that the Riccardiana records only half of those names that are found on Vesconte's chart of 1311 but not present on the Carte Pisane and Cortona chart, could be read as a pointer to a source, whether Vescontian or not, before 1311. Two '1318' names appear on the Riccardiana but the other nine are absent.

Colour conventions
In some ways this point is the most interesting. Vesconte's chart of 1311 is the first dated work to apply colour to islands as a means of distinguishing them from their neighbours, with sometimes dramatic effect to the estuaries (look at the Danube and Dnipro). But the Riccardiana does the same thing. So which work introduced a convention – missing only from the Carte Pisane and Cortona chart – that would be followed, not hesitantly, but immediately and wholeheartedly by all subsequent chartmakers? It may or may not be significant but, comparing those features that appear on the Riccardiana with the 1311 Vesconte equivalent (or 1313 for anything west of Corsica) there was far more colour application by Vesconte (22 entities against 14), with some Vescontian islands and estuaries treated in two or multiple tones. Might that be a further indication that the Riccardiana was closer to the birth of a convention, so integral a part of portolan chart production (at least after its initial stage) and yet one that presumably stemmed from the initiative of one individual?

The suggestion that the Riccardiana might – whatever the date of its actual construction – be based on a model earlier than the surviving work of Pietro Vesconte does not rule out the possibility that the model in question was a lost early work of Vesconte. Dated works by Pietro span no more than a decade (1311-21) and he could easily have been active for some time before that. Certainly there is nothing amateurish or hesitant about his earliest chart. But the arguments outlined above at least raise the possibility that the toponymic innovations, new island and estuary shapes, and colour conventions first noted on Vesconte's work (see The features chosen to illustrate the varied portrayal of islands and estuaries on portolan charts up to 1469) may, in some cases, need to be reassigned to the unknown chartmaker responsible for the Riccardiana chart.

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Genoese: second quarter 14th century [6-9]
(for the detailed Colour & Shape Analysis findings see here – a Microsoft Word document)

A group of four Genoese works (three charts and an atlas) assigned by Pujades to the second quarter of the 14th century:

[6]. Sotheby's, 15 April 1980 (bought by N. Israel) – incomplete to the north and east
Pujades C 9bis
Campbell E 18 (original census 177); name analysis (1987 p.416, No.12)

[7]. Paris, BnF MS Lat.4850
Pujades A 9, see 2007 p.490b
Campbell 33 – not considered in the name analysis (1987 p.416)

[8]. Library of Congress, Ristow & Skelton
Pujades C 10, 'same atelier as the following' – see 2007 p.490b
Campbell 152; name analysis (1987 p.416, No.13)

[9]. Paris, BnF MS Ital. 1704
Pujades C 11, 'same atelier as the preceding' – see 2007 p.490b
Campbell 30 – not considered in the name analysis (1987 p.416)

With four unsigned charts assigned to Genoese makers during the same general period, it is natural to look for similarities between them that might point to common authorship or at least a shared workshop. Pujades detected such a link between the last two charts, those in the Library of Congress and Paris, Ital. 1704, 'which either issued from the same production centre or were fashioned by two makers who shared the same sources'. The 'Colour & Shape Analysis' (C&SA) does show similarities between them (note the exaggerated length of the ascending letters, particularly on C 11), but also a number of differences. Perhaps the resemblance is sufficient, in a period before such conventions were standardised, to support a common authorship. Some similarities in the handwriting – though the scan of Paris Lat.1704 is not clear – provide additional support for that.

For comparative notes on Nos 8 & 9 see ’Anonymous chart of the Mediterranean and Black Sea, [ca. 1325-50]’, and ’Anonymous chart of the Mediterranean and Black Sea, [ca. 1350], [Italy]’, both written by Sima Krtalic (October and November 2021).

It is immediately evident that the only atlas among the four (Paris, Lat. 4850) is distinctive for more than its format. The C&SA findings for 14th-century Italian works reveal several features it shares with none of the others. Among them is a unique shape for the Isle of Man [3], formed of eight unnatural capes. Other surprising features:

  • 25-7. Corsica, Sardinia and Sicily are given a full wash, something otherwise seen in the 14th century only on the Dulceti charts
  • 36. Limnos is given the strange 'lollipop' projections, also seen in the 14th century only on the work of Dulceti
  • 37. The name label on Lesbos is not otherwise seen before the second half of the 14th century
  • 38. The equivalent label on Chios is seen in the first half of the 14th century only on the Dalorto/Dulceti chart of 1330
  • 40. Likewise a label on Rhodes is a Dalorto/Dulceti feature
  • 47. fasso / faxio is given a diamond shape, not otherwise seen in the 14th century

None of those features is individually conclusive. But they do indicate a strong debt to Dulceti, which distinguishes this Paris atlas from the other Genoese works assigned by Pujades to this same general period.

The Sotheby's/Israel/Hôtel Drouot chart, was originally attributed to Perrino Vesconte by Sotheby's. However, Pujades (p.447 note 5) found no toponymic or other evidence pointing to a Vescontian source. Nor did my own place-name analysis, which strongly suggested that it derived neither from Vesconte nor Dalorto/Dulceti. The poor condition that made it impossible to read most of the names also militates against the extraction of visual data. However, the Sotheby's chart does not appear to be closely related to the others – see, for example, its treatment of the Danube and Nile deltas.

We seem, therefore, to be faced with at least three unknown Genoese chartmakers, possibly active during the later stages of the careers of Vesconte and Dulceti or subsequent to that and, as such, the only practitioners whose surviving work can be assigned to the long gap between Dulceti and the Pizzigani.

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Dulceti [10]
(for the detailed Colour & Shape Analysis findings see here – a Microsoft Word document)

[10]. London, British Library, Add.MS 25691. Probably 1339-42
Pujades C 9: Dulceti workshop, 1339-50
Campbell 48; names analysis (1987 p.416, No.2)

This chart has long been attributed to Dalorto/Dulceti and the C&SA findings fully support that. My toponymic analysis demonstrated a very close match between its profile and that of the dated chart of 1339, suggesting it was of a similar date. Pujades places the British Library chart in the period between that date and 1350, though he notes (2007 p.491b) that nothing is known of Dulceti after 1345, and, in the loose folding table of 'legends' to his subsequent Vallseca book (2009), he suggested c.1340 instead.

Alberto Quartapelle notes (personal communication) that the way in which the first three of the Canary Islands are represented is essentially the same on this and the 1339 chart. He also argues convincingly that this undated chart would not have been produced in this form later than 1342. There were no voyages to the island between 1339 and 1341, but in that year Niccoloso da Recco visited the entire seven-island group, adding the further four islands to the west. Regular voyages started from Palma, Majorca by April 1342. It is hard to conceive that Dulceti, working in that city, could have been unaware of those discoveries or of the sale of a Canarian slave in the Palma market in October (see Alberto Quartapelle, 400 años de cronicas de las Islas Canarias (Santa Cruz de Tenerife, 2015), p.54. {This paragraph added 25 November 2016}

Pujades assigns the British Library chart to a hypothetical Dulceti workshop. However, the handwriting looks the same – see, e.g. the initial 'T' in tripoli de barbaria – and there seems to be no reason not to attribute it to Dulceti personally.

Catalan: mid-14th century [11]
(for the detailed Colour & Shape Analysis findings see here – a Microsoft Word document)

[11]. Vatican Library, Vat.Lat.14027
Pujades C 12: Majorcan mid-14th century (worn fragment covering the eastern section only) – 2007, p. 491b (suggesting Guillem Cantererelles as the possible author)
Campbell 160; name analysis (1987 p.416, No.11 – treated as Italian)

No Catalan chartmakers are known to have been working during the period to which this fragment is assigned. It is badly stained, with much of the colour washed out. However, enough can be seen to rule out any Dulceti connection. The decorative border (seen only at the top), comprising lines of nested arrow-heads is very similar to that on Vesconte's first chart of 1311. It is also reminiscent of, but not quite the same as, those on the Carignano chart (produced in Genoa) and the anonymous Genoese chart in the Library of Congress [see composite illustration in Pujades, 2007 pp.220-1]. Such a border is not present on the three Dalorto/Dulceti charts (from the 1330s or shortly thereafter).

Because of the chart's limited scope, only the Ionian Islands, Aegean and Black Sea are available to the C&SA [note that the Pujades scan presents the chart with south at the top]. Dalorto/Dulceti was sometimes inconsistent in his colour choice but his Zakynthos [35] and Skyros [39] were always red (green and uncoloured respectively here), as was all other Catalan work of the second half of the 14th century. If this chart is definitely Majorcan (might it not be Genoese?) – and it includes neither of the coastal sections whose toponymy was studied in detail by Pujades – it must represent an unsophisticated production by a chartmaker working in Majorca between the time of Dulceti and Cresques.

Cresques workshop [12-17]
(for the detailed Colour & Shape Analysis findings see here – a Microsoft Word document)

Five charts were attributed by Pujades (2007, p.63) to a hypothetical Cresques workshop, to which the Catalan Atlas (his C 16) was also assigned. However, the first, Marciana, chart is not mentioned in his subsequent Vallseca volume (2009, p.309):

[12]. Venice, Marciana 1912
Pujades C 15: third quarter 14th century {a mistake in the dating corrected 16 January 2013}
Campbell 115; name analysis (1987 p.416, No.4)

[13]. Paris, BnF, MS Espagnol 30
Pujades C16: c.1375
Campbell 28; name analysis (1987 p.417)

[14]. Florence, BNC 22
Pujades C 18: last quarter 14th century
Campbell 79; name analysis (1987 p.416, No.3)

[15]. Naples, BN
Pujades C 19: last quarter 14th century
Campbell 97; name analysis (1987 p.416, No.5)

[16]. Istanbul, Topkapi Sarayi, Museum (fragments) – no scan available but reproduced, in black and white, in Destombes (1964) Pl.XXVII
Pujades, C 20; Campbell 135

[17]. Paris, BnF AA 751
Pujades C 22: end 14th century
Campbell 12; name analysis (1987 p.416, No.6)

Leaving aside the special characteristics of the Catalan Atlas, and the unexamined Topkapi chart, the other four supposed Cresques atelier works fall, visually, into two pairs. The chart in Venice (Pujades C 15) and that in Florence (C 18) are relatively plain, while those in Naples (C 19) and Paris (C 22) are highly ornate. However, the concern here is with the underlying features that would be common to all.

One convention that seems to be a distinctive feature of this group is the way that the large circle representing the mythical island of montorio or brazil [9] (off the south- west of Ireland) is presented as a button, with an outer ring of holes and one in the centre. Three of these charts (the Marciana does not extend so far) include that 'button' form. Surprisingly, given that the Catalan Atlas's own generally accepted date of c.1375 places it earlier than this group of four, there are features that link it only with the Paris chart, which is assigned to the end of that century. For example, in both works the Isle of Man (the real one) [3] is in gold, and these two works alone have stripes over Majorca [20].

With only one work confidently (if not conclusively) assigned to Cresques Abraham, and that a thoroughly atypical presentation piece (Catalan Atlas), there is no way of knowing exactly what the Cresques 'house style' would have looked like, if there was one. While there are several points of similarity between these four anonymous charts, there are as many inconsistencies. Indeed, in several instances the Paris chart follows the Soler example rather than that of the Catalan Atlas. The unusual green for Lefkada [32] (red was the Catalan standard) links the Naples and Paris charts.

That this group of charts is closely related is clear. But it is hard to see, from the colour analysis alone, evidence to confirm that these four charts were the product of supervised work in a single atelier.

See also the description of a fragment of a Guillem Soler chart (announced in 2011), including comments on that chartmaker's two signed works and some reference to the Cresques atelier.

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Late 14th-early 15th century [18-22]
(for the detailed Colour & Shape Analysis findings see here – a Microsoft Word document)

[18]. Venice, Correr 30
Pujades C 21: Pizzigano family, last quarter 14th century
Campbell 121 – not considered in the name analysis (1987 p.416)

[19]. (ex Youssoff Kamal, Cairo; now apparently Dar Al Kutub (National Library and Archives of Egypt) [though this has not been confirmed] – eastern half only, in a poor quality scan)
Pujades C 23: Pizzigano family?, end 14th century
Campbell 161 – not considered in the name analysis (1987 p.416)

[20]. London, The National Archives (fragment)
Pujades C 24: end 14th century
Campbell 55 – not considered in the name analysis (1987 p.416)

[21]. Venice, Marciana. 'Corbitis [ex Combitis] Atlas'
Pujades A 11: (same author as next) – end 14th-early 15th
Campbell 117; name analysis (1987 p.416, No.22)

[22]. London, British Library, Add 19510. 'Pinelli-Walckenaer Atlas'
Pujades A 12a: (same author as preceding – the interpolated later material [the larger-scale Aegean and Adriatic sheets, A 12b, is discussed under Venetian: second quarter 15th century [no.32] and attributed to Francesco Cesanis, perhaps around 1434, the amended date of the calendar) – end 14th-early 15th [see further the 'Census' update No. 47]
Campbell 47; name analysis (1987 p.416, Nos.22 & 24)

Pujades assigns the Correr chart (C 21) to the Pizzigano family and also, but with less confidence, the partial chart formerly with Prince Youssouff Kamal (whose scan, based on an old photograph, is insufficient for detailed analysis). The C&SA results demonstrate the inconsistency with which the Pizzigani applied colour – see the Ionian Islands in the 1373-83 atlas. Not surprisingly, therefore there is no definite Pizzigano chromatic signature with which to compare the Correr chart. However there are several instances where that unsigned chart differs in its treatment from the two authored works. More significantly, its highly contorted outlines for the Ionian and Aegean islands are distinctive (unique?) and quite unlike the signed work of the Pizzigani. It would be more appropriate to consider this instead as the work of an unknown chartmaker. It may be relevant that the treatment of the Venetian campanile is similar to that on the 1404 Pongeto chart (though the hands are different).

By contrast, what can be discerned of the Kamal chart's treatment of the Ionian and Aegean islands looks more like that on the signed Pizzigani works. Some of the flags have the distinctive Pizzigani tapering 'handle', giving the overall appearance of a football rattle. However, the scan's poor quality and the chart's lack of visual features matching those of the Pizzigani productions suggest caution in attributing this to a putative Pizzigani family atelier.

Little can be said about the fragment in the UK National Archives, which is worn and damaged.

That the Corbitis and Pinelli-Walckenaer atlases are by the same author was demonstrated by comparative illustrations in the original 1987 'Chapter' (p.402). The reference to the "otherwise rare abbreviation lbz for 'gulf'" (caption to fig. 19.9), represented my misreading of a 15th-century MS convention. Nevertheless, the fundamental point about the shared authorship of the Corbitis and Pinelli-Walckenaer atlases remains valid. The two works are significant but their dating is problematic. In my toponymic analysis (pp.419-20) I had placed them firmly into the 15th century, on the basis of their inclusion of some names first seen well after 1400. But it is always possible that some or all of those names had first appeared in these two atlases. When the renewed place-name analysis deals with works previously omitted, the picture may become clearer. Pujades has recently argued that the inclusion of Livorno indicates a date for these two atlases of no earlier than 1406, when Genoa took control of the port (2013(b), pp. 24-5). {This sentence added October 2013}.

As far as the C&SA is concerned it is evident that, while their joint author generally handled elements in the same way in the two works, he was not consistent in his use of colour.

See further below on the Corbitis and Pinelli-Walckenaer atlases in the section on Cesanis.

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Fifteenth Century


(for the detailed Colour & Shape Analysis findings see here – a Microsoft Word document)

The atlas is preserved in the British Library as Egerton MS. 73. One of its charts is dated 1489. The fullest description still seems to be the one in the Catalogue of Manuscript Maps, Charts and Plans and of the Topographical Drawings in the British Museum, 3 vols (1844-61) – see Vol. 1 pp.17-21. This catalogue entry was copied into the British Library map catalogue (subsequently computerised) and can be retrieved via the COPAC catalogue. Another description, also with suggested attributions, can be found in Armando Cortesão, History of Portuguese Cartography, 2 vols (Coimbra, 1969-71), II: 195-200, which, more in keeping with modern conventions, provides the folio numbers, e.g. in the style '3 verso-4 recto', for each chart. Just one of the charts bears a date, 1489, which can be bracketed with a terminus provided by the end of the cycle of lunar tables, 1492. A summary analysis was added to Wikipedia (16 April 2013).

In July 2016 the British Library put up scans of 37 charts on Wikimedia Commons (i.e. excluding only the last sheet, the Holy Land). These can be enlarged to very high resolution. The BL is to be warmly commended for this move. In April 2020 MEDEA-CHART mounted the whole atlas Here (you need to register to gain access).

The 2007 Pujades DVD includes the work of eight named 15th-century chartmakers from this atlas – F. Beccari, Benincasa, A & F. Cesanis, Fiorino, G. de Napoli, N. Nicolai (Pasqualini) and Roselli. In all, Pujades reproduces 21 sheets, one or two of which offer two versions of the same area.

His COR 2 and COR 3 both reproduce the same sheet after F. Cesanis. However, this includes two versions of the Adriatic, in which considerable differences in the toponymy can be noticed. Pujades lists those separately in his toponymic catalogue. The lower version, oriented with west at the top [his (1)], is evidently earlier while the uppermost version is his (2). {This paragraph added 24 July 2011}

Since the volume's contents are complicated, the separate Table 1 (which is a Microsoft Word document) gives both the original British Museum (Library) numbers (in the first column) and the foliations (final column), with the Cortesão equivalents.

Because the traditional (i.e. Mediterranean and Black Sea) charts in this 'atlas' – which is actually much more than that, comprising also a merchant's and navigator's compendium – were evidently copied from archival copies in some Venetian repository around 1489, the question to be asked in this context is: to what extent are these faithful copies?

At first glance this might seem unlikely, since each is presented in the same way with distinctive floreate corner pieces, quite unlike anything found on any surviving 15th-century chart. What else did the Cornaro's draftsman (or draftsmen – opinions differ) supply or ignore?

None of the works attributed to the makers listed above carries a date but Francesco Beccari is known to have been active around 1400. Some of the others were also working decades before the copies were made. It seems fairly obvious, since there was no attempt by the Cornaro scribe to imitate the charts' original appearance, that the exercise must have had a scientific purpose, concerned only with the charts' hydrographic and toponymic content. Why else undertake such a laborious work, and why trouble to reproduce two (or occasionally more) versions of a specific area from different works by the same chartmaker? Since the Pujades visual corpus includes the work of four of those named above, it is possible, in principle, to compare the original and Cornaro versions in respect of their coastlines and toponymy.

One curious feature relates to the stated authorship of some of the charts. It is almost certain that the models used would have been dated, since it is highly unusual to find signed portolan charts without that indication. Again, we could expect that several of the charts chosen for this exercise would also have stated where they had been made and perhaps, when that differed, the chartmaker's city of origin. Yet, with one exception, no more than a bald statement of authorship is given. In other words, whatever further information had been present originally must have been omitted intentionally. Yet how could that not have been of interest to anyone with an archival motivation? We may know that Francesco Beccari was a Genoese, active, also in Majorca and Savona, in the early 15th century, but would anybody in Venice in 1489 have even heard of him? Or would the audience for this work have known that Petrus (Pere) Rosell[i] was the only one of the named chartmakers to have belonged to the rival school in Majorca? By contrast, several of the texts that constitute the second half of the work carry a date from the first half of the 15th century.

The only full signature occurs on one of the Adriatic charts, 'Beneditus Pesina fecit ano Domini M.CCCCLXXXVIIII. Veneciis'. The fact that, in this case, both the date (1489) and place of creation (Venice) are specified gives strong support to the suggestion that Benedetto Pesina (not known as a chartmaker) was indeed the copyist, not just of that chart but of them all [personal communication from Erin Maglaque, whose forthcoming dissertation on the colonial mapping of early modern Venice will contain a detailed study of this atlas]. {The two paragraphs above added 30 November 2014}

As far as place-names are concerned I defer to the analysis of the Valencia and Adriatic coastlines given by Pujades (2007, pp. 350-97), where he includes the names from the Cornaro versions next to those of the surviving original. But what of island and estuary shapes and colouring, the elements I have analysed? It is evident that the Cornaro copyist did not reproduce all of those.

As mentioned before, it is not possible to use the Pujades images for comparative purposes. However, I could make drawings of certain distinctively shaped islands or estuaries (particularly Zakynthos [35] and Limnos [36]) and from those it is clear that the Cornaro versions are faithful reproductions of the distinctive hydrography of the chartmaker involved. This makes it particularly interesting that there are two treatments of the Black Sea (on a single sheet) attributed to perhaps the most important of the early portolan chart innovators, Francesco Beccari.

Closer study of the two Beccari treatments of the Black Sea, in comparison with his surviving chart of 1403, might perhaps reveal that, besides introducing a large body of new place-names and adjusting the mismatched scales of the Atlantic and Mediterranean, Beccari may also have introduced subtle but significant improvements to the coastal outlines of the Black Sea. Compare, for example, one small feature, the island at the mouth of the river besides faxio/fasso [47] at the mid-point of the sea's east coast. The upper Cornaro version reproduces precisely the old-fashioned 'spanner' shape of the 1403 chart but the lower version is different. On the other hand, on the 1403 chart the oval shape of the island beside the Danube delta and Fidonixi beyond that (looking somewhat like the number 2) are very close to the lower of the two Cornaro versions (the one with Beccari's name). By contrast, the upper version gives the delta island a circular shape while Fidonixi is trifoliate. [See further about faxio/fasso on The features chosen to illustrate the varied portrayal of islands and estuaries on portolan charts up to 1469.]

A check of the eleven Black Sea names first otherwise seen on the 1403 chart found those repeated on each Cornaro version. Only palormo (Table of 'Significant Names' (a Microsoft Word document) – see no.365b) and bogancim (=bogoman, no. 370) are missing. On the other hand bosaro (presumably boscam, no.403) first noted on later charts, but not that of 1403, appears on each of the Cornaro versions.

The proven veracity of the toponymy and outlines on the Cornaro copies provides confidence in these mirror images of two lost charts by Francesco Beccari. Though which is the earlier, and how each relates chronologically to the 1403 original, is unclear. Unfortunately, the two charts by Francesco Beccari's son Batista do not include the Black Sea, so it is not possible to check what would have been Francesco's mature version of that area.

In the same way, two surprising features were noted in the shape of Corfu on the two Benincasa charts. Pujades's Cor 10 shows twin bays set into the north-west coast – a feature not found on any of the other Benincasa charts available in reproduction – as well as a distinctive arrow-head shape to the promontory projecting north-east. The latter, which is repeated on Cor 9, is also unusual but can be seen on the earliest surviving Benincasa chart, that with the date 1461 (Pujades C 62). Unfortunately, the reading is unclear on the other Benincasa chart in Florence assigned to that same year (C 63). From 1463 until at least 1469 (when the Pujades scans cease) Benincasa shows, consistently, a rounded promontory instead of the arrow-head.

If we are to trust the Cornaro Atlas, and the evidence above suggests that we should, the two-bay and arrow-head form for Corfu on Cor 10, followed by the arrow-head alone (as found only on the original of 1461 and Cor 9) indicate that its draftsman was using two models from the start of Benincasa's career, one of them earlier than any survivor. This is considerable weight to hang from one island shape and perhaps others will investigate this point further.

What did the Cornaro copyist add or not trouble to reproduce? For some reason he imposes his own consistent, and very distinctive style on Rhodes, with a large red Maltese cross over a plain background. However, comparison of the shapes he gives the island with those on the equivalent surviving originals shows that, as elsewhere, he has faithfully reproduced the distinctive outlines in each case.

Rhodes neatly sums up the Cornaro scribe's approach. He was recording, with care, the coastal and island configurations of the original, and its toponymy (even if there are some noticeable mis-readings). He was not, though, concerned with the chartmakers' visual signature. Although he uses the diagonal corner scales introduced by Benincasa, regardless of their authorship, he does not otherwise imitate any of the visual conventions that distinguish the work of his models from one another. As a result, some of the unattributed work in the Cornaro atlas remains to be identified – a process that will require careful comparison of toponymy and coastal configurations.

Where the Cornaro atlas is an unreliable witness is in such trivial, but diagnotically useful features, such as the detached 'a' for Aigues Mortes [23] and the 'd' or 'da' for Damiata [51]. The copyist's disregard for the original island and estuary colouring shows that he preferred to apply his own colours rather than reproduce what was in front of him. Indeed, as can be seen by comparing the Cornaro version of a Roselli chart with that author's invariable practice, the Venetian scribe has also supplied colour where the original had omitted it. For these reasons, the analysis of the relevant Cornaro sheets has not been incorporated into the general C&SA results, since it would unhelpfully confuse the visual signatures that can be discerned there. However, one of the C&SA tables is devoted to the Cornaro Atlas (a Microsoft Word document).

The other respect in which the Cornaro Atlas copies are not true facsimiles concerns their arrangement on the page. Having decided to place the reproductions onto the uniformly-sized folios of a volume, whose spread was considerably less than that of the original loose charts, the copyist was forced to split each into two or three. There is no guarantee, either, that the sheet-lines of the atlas pages were preserved. Whether the copying was done directly, e.g. by tracing, thus preserving the original scales, remains to be checked. { This paragraph added 5 December 2014}

What must have been a significant collection of original portolan charts, mostly but not all Venetian, and spanning perhaps 80 years, was presumably in one place so that Pesina (?) could made his copies. There is no indication that the models had been damaged by shipboard use – as far as I know there are no gaps in the coverage – and it seems more likely that this collection of model charts would have been the property of a mercantile or patrician owner. As such, its chances of survival would have been higher than that for an individual, working chart. If they weren't destroyed, is there the tantalising possibility that they might still be preserved somewhere in Venice? {This paragraph added 30 November 2014}

Finally, as it appears that none of the Cornaro charts was, coincidentally, copied from any of the originals that survive, as far as coastal outlines and place-names are concerned, it gives us, effectively, an extra eight works by named 15th-century chartmakers, with parts of three others.

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Virga [23]
(for the detailed Colour & Shape Analysis findings see here – a Microsoft Word document)

[23]. Venice, Correr, Port.40
Pujades C 28, Venetian, beginning 15th, see 2007, p.495a
Campbell 121a

The suggested attribution by Pujades presumably rests on toponymic similarities between this and the signed Virga chart (although the two sequences are certainly not identical). In other respects, there is little to indicate Albertin de Virga as the author of this work. Neither this nor the 1409 chart is clearly enough reproduced to be able to look for handwriting similarities but the visual signatures of the two works are markedly dissimilar. The portrayal here of the Danube delta [41-2] as an arrangement of six separate 'islands' is unique. The eastern Canaries – included here but unfortunately not on the signed chart – are noticeably crude. Perhaps most significant of all is the absence here of the detachment and westwards shift of the Black Sea, seen uniquely on the 1409 chart. So, unless, a handwriting comparison from better scans provides supporting evidence, or the markedly dissimilar handling of the C&SA elements between the two works can be argued as evidence that one represents an early and another a later production, I do not think this attribution is sustainable. Any toponymic similarities identified by Pujades are more likely to point to a similar Venetian source. With those provisos, I conclude that this work is by an otherwise unknown chartmaker.

At a conference in 2011 (published in 2013), Pujades provided convincing evidence for the attribution of the Venice chart to Virga (2013a p.35 (note 54)). He kindly provided me with comparative details of the handwriting on the signed and attributed charts. It is quite clear that both are in the same hand and I am more than happy to admit my error. {This paragraph added October 2013}.

Italian: early 15th century [24-5]
(for the detailed Colour & Shape Analysis findings see here – a Microsoft Word document)

[24]. Oxford, Bodleian, Douce 390
Pujades A 13, Italian, beginning 15th
Campbell 57

No attribution has been suggested for this work, whose place of origin is also in doubt. There are sufficient peculiarities in its visual signature to indicate strongly that it is by an otherwise unknown chartmaker. Examples are the almost exclusive use of blue and green, and the colour and labelling of Majorca (different on sheets 4 & 5). The shapes of Ceffalonia and Zakynthos [see Explanatory notes and wider implications (Zakynthos)] are reminiscent of the unusual forms found on the 1367-83 Pizzigano atlas. Although their place-name sequences are not close, it would be worth comparing this further with the Pizzigano.

[25]. Milan, Ambrosiana, F.260 Inf.(2)
Pujades C 31, Venetian, c.1420
Campbell 85

This has a few distinctive visual features, for example the treatment of Euboea ( negroponte ) and Cyprus. White strips left across the width of each island breaks their blue colouring into strips. The large armorials on Corsica, Sardinia and Sicily, two circular and one square, are unique [see The presence of an armorial device within the separate countries of the British Isles, as well as within Corsica, Sardinia and Sicily.] For Sardinia and Sicily, large white spaces have been left within the overall wash for name labels. This and the now lost (?) Kamal chart[No.19 above] are the only Venetian works to adopt that Catalan device. The application of an overall wash to Corsica and the two large Italian islands is noted on just one other 15th-century Italian chart (Pujades C 50) but the treatment there is quite different. This is evidently the work of another unknown chartmaker.

Cesanis [26-7]
(for the detailed Colour & Shape Analysis findings see here – a Microsoft Word document)

[26]. Genoa, Bib. Berio, 'Luxoro Atlas', identified as the work of Francesco de Cesanis
Pujades A 14, pre-1421
Campbell 81

[27]. Venice, Museo Storico Navale, ms 1749
Pujades A 15, Venetian, first quarter 15th [single sheet from an atlas covering the central Mediterranean]
Campbell 122

That the Luxoro Atlas is in the hand of the person who signed the 1421 chart, Francesco de Cesanis (Pujades C 32), is evident from various distinguishing features of its hand, notably the wavy letter 'l'. It is instructive, therefore, to see just how much their visual signatures do, or do not match. About two-thirds of the colours are different on the two works, thus demonstrating that Cesanis was one of those chartmakers who did not use a standard palette. However, about the same proportion of the noted conventions – name labels, island shapes, etc – are the same. The similarities apply particularly to the Ionian and Aegean islands. For many chartmakers colour choice was of little importance; the hydrographical details, and particularly those that would have formed part of the outlines traced from the model, will naturally tend towards consistency.

The reason for linking here the Luxoro Atlas with the single surviving sheet of the Museo Storico Navale atlas is because of a single feature. The Museo's sheet extends to the west just as far as the Rhône delta and the first name is pinea. The pi (rather than just p) is written on the large island used to denote the delta next to vignom (Avignon). That in itself is strange but this is close to the point where many charts, Venetian among them, place the red initial 'a' of the name Aigues Mortes [23], and this seems clearly to imitate that convention. Since the separated 'a' was one of the diagnostic points I examined I can be fairly confident that, although not then looking for it, I would have noticed the detached 'p' or 'pi' of pinea nearby.

pinea refers, now and certainly in the 18th century, to a pinewood near to Saintes Maries de la mer. {This sentence added March 2015, on the basis of a personal communication from Jacques Mille}

The Luxoro Atlas is the only other instance seen of pinea, written in this detached way. The name also appears, undivided, on two works with a common authorship, the Corbitis and Pinelli-Walckenaer atlases [21 & 22 above]. The name has not been noted other than on these four anonymous Venetian works, though, as it was not considered a 'significant name', its presence was not systematically checked. The sequence of names on the four unsigned atlases and the Cesanis chart is set out on the accompanying Table 2 (which is a Microsoft Word document).

The way that Cesanis, in the Luxoro Atlas, had separated out the first (detached) letter of pinea so that it aligns with Arles suggests that he was copying – not fully comprehending (although the 'p' is correctly in black against the red for Arles) – from an earlier logical arrangement (as on the Storico Navale, which is considered to be somewhat earlier). The word stagnom nearby is another non-standard name found, it seems, on some Venetian works of this period (for example Pujades A 29-31), though that point was not thoroughly checked. Kretschmer (1909, p.589b) records stagnom on Benincasa but does not list pinea at all. The Storico Navale atlas sheet, while linked to the Cesanis environment through pinea, has its own distinctive feature: decorative border sections that divide up the scale markings, comprising alternating arrangement of dots as on a tile from a game of dominoes, a green 4 and a red 5.

On Cesanis see also the next section.

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Venetian: second quarter 15th century [28-32]
(for the detailed Colour & Shape Analysis findings see here – a Microsoft Word document)

[28]. Rovigo, Bib. Com., Silv. 182
Pujades A 29, Venetian, second quarter 15th; related to A 30 below
Campbell 106

[29]. Parma, Bib.Pal, II.32.1624
Pujades A 30, Venetian, second quarter 15th; related to A 29 above
Campbell 103

[30]. Vatican, Vat.Lat.9015
Pujades A 31, Venetian, second quarter 15th; same hand as the following – see 2007, p.496a
Campell 158

[31]. Venice, Marciana, It.VI.212
Pujades A 16(b), Venetian, second quarter 15th [the later sheet for the Adriatic (no.6) in the 1426 Ziroldi atlas]; same hand as the preceding - see 2007, p.496a
Campbell 116

[32]. London, British Library, Add.19510
Pujades A 12(b), Pinelli-Walckenaer atlas, Venetian (F. Cesanis, c.1434) – one of the two later sheets, that covering the Aegean (no.7)
Campbell 47

The first group (Pujades A 29-31) is distinguished by the frequency and number of its 'labels' – where space in an island's colour is left white to enable it to take a place-name later (or created by working round an existing name). The regular geometric shape given to Guernsey (in the English Channel) is repeated on all three (and found also on the 1421 Cesanis chart, the Luxoro atlas and perhaps elsewhere – though this point was not thoroughly checked).

Some unusual features also relate one or more of this group to other Venetian works. Examples are the serrated circle for the island off the south-west of Ireland ( montorio/brazil) [9] on A 30 and A 31, which can be seen also on the Cesanis chart and again later on. Multiple labels, e.g. on Majorca and the Aegean islands, link A 29 and A 30, and to a lesser extent, A 31. A label on Corfu is found only on A 29-31 and on A 16(b), the Adriatic chart added to the 1426 Ziroldi atlas; while labels on Chios and Skyros can be seen on A 29-31 but, this time, additionally, on one of the two later charts added to the Pinelli-Walckenaer atlas (A 12(b)).

Pujades suggested that A 29 and A 30 were 'related'. The visual analysis strongly supports that, although they are evidently not in the same hand – note the many distinctive characteristics of A 29, e.g. the vertical line projecting up in front of the 'a'. Pujades also identified the Adriatic chart added to the Ziroldi atlas (A 16(b)) as being in the same hand as A 31.

Might the overlapping similarities within this group, combined with some differences and the fact that only two (A 31 and A 16(b)) appear to be by the same person, provide evidence for the existence of some form of co-operative workshops, as distinct from a hierarchical atelier [see Venetian practice]?

Pujades suggested Francesco Cesanis as the author of the two later sheets in the Pinelli-Walckenaer atlas. Since no C&SA features were selected for the Adriatic above Corfu, only the Aegean could be considered here. There was insufficient evidence to support a Cesanis connection on those grounds alone.

Ziroldi [33-6]
(for the detailed Colour & Shape Analysis findings see here – a Microsoft Word document)

[33]. Milan, Ambrosiana, SP 2.39
Pujades A 21, c.1446
Campbell 88

[34]. Chicago, Newberry, Ayer 2
Pujades A 22, c.1446
Campbell 138

[35]. Vatican, Rossi. 676
Pujades A 24, second quarter 15th
Campbell 156

[36]. London, British Library, Add 18665
Pujades A 27, second quarter 15th
Campbell 46

Four unsigned atlases were confidently assigned to Ziroldi by Pujades, because their toponymy matched the chartmaker's signed work and because – at least for the last three – they repeat his distinctive treatment of what are presumably intended for inland lakes and rivers, presented like a string of kites. Some of these perhaps relate to the orcinoli, or circles representing the river's source, that E. Solopova finds characteristic of medieval maps [see Imago Mundi 64:2 p.156 (2012)]. {This sentence added 6 October 2013}

In addition, to this untrained eye, all the atlases appear to be in the same distinctive hand, in other words by Ziroldi himself rather than workshop productions (unless it is to be supposed that assistants were required to imitate all the master's scribal peculiarities). Note, for example, the use of a slanting dash to denote the dot on a 'i', and the way that some initial letters (G and S particularly) would be continued across the word, to link up with a double 'l'. Satallia (on the south coast of Asia Minor) is a good example. Given without any flourish in 1422, the subsequent elaboration of its initial letter, already evident in 1426, can be seen to its full extent in the signed works of 1443 and 1447. The four unsigned works show the same treatment for that, and other features.

The C&SA fully supports those attributions. Although Ziroldi was often inconsistent in his use of colour, his treatment of the analysed conventions was more predictable. One of his trade-marks (otherwise found only on the 1430 Briaticho and 1448 Nicolai atlases) was to split the usual oval shape for the imaginary island of scurçe (off the south-west of Scotland) [2] in two, with a larger left side offering a jagged edge to the smaller right one.

As a result, those four attributed works fit neatly into the chronological slots suggested by Pujades. Indeed, there are features in the C&SA which independently corroborate the Pujades sequence of Ziroldi works, although too much weight should not be given to such unimportant, and possibly accidental, elements, particularly as they comprise an ABA pattern where, following change, the original treatment returns.

But the suggestion that Pujades A 21 and A 22 fit into the period 1443-6 is supported, first, by the omission of the separated 'a' for aguemorte [23] and, strangely, for the inclusion of the separated 'd' for damiata [51], second, for Ziroldi's preference for an elaborate pattern of islands in the Danube delta [41-2] for those same years, and, third, for his convention, in that same period, of splitting the two large islands in the Dnipro estuary into three [45-6]. That same feature supports the late dating for A 24 and A 27, since the (now single) large island to the west is provided with a name label. One unusual feature, involving the atlas that Pujades puts as Ziroldi's latest work (A 27), is the small detail of a circle (or more strictly a regular hexagon) on Tenerife (inferno) representing Teide [14], but the handwriting does not cast any doubt that this is Ziroldi's work.

Italian: second quarter 15th century [37-42]
(for the detailed Colour & Shape Analysis findings see here – a Microsoft Word document)

[37]. Florence, Bib.Medicea-Laur., Gaddi Rel.9, 'Medici Atlas'
Pujades A 25(a) & (b), Italian, second quarter 15th, supposedly based, in part, on a lost work of c.1351, with later sources for larger-scale sheets covering the Adriatic and the Aegean (3 & 7)
Campbell 76

[38]. Venice, Marciana, It.IV.493
Pujades A 26, Venetian, second quarter 15th [same hand as the following] – see 2007, p.496a
Campbell 114

[39]. Florence, Arch. di Stato, C.N.11
Pujades, C 49, 'Italian', second quarter 15th [does not specify Venetian although identifies it as in the same hand as the preceding] – see 2007, p.496b
Campbell 72

[40]. Barcelona, Arch. Corona de Aragón, MP1
Pujades C 50, 'Italian', second quarter 15th
Campbell 127

[41]. Istanbul, Topkapi Sarayi Museum, 1827 [no scan available and so this could not be considered]
Pujades C 56, 'Italian', mid-15th
Campbell 134

[42]. Lyons, Bib de la ville, MS 179
Pujades A 28, Venetian, second quarter 15th – see 2007, p.496a
Campbell 8


The Medici Atlas is a confusing and unusual work. Its calendar starts in 1351 and Pujades speculates that much of the volume (that part which forms a single portolan chart spread over sheets 4-6 & 8) is based on a Genoese work of about that date. The toponymy is certainly 14th century, and Dulcetian rather than Venetian. However, Pujades dates the construction of the volume as a whole to the second quarter of the next century, and notes that it is all in the same hand even if some of the content reproduces originals of different dates. He concluded (p.504 note 116) that the atlas was produced, probably somewhere other than Genoa or Venice, 'based on previous material, including some of the works by Francesco Cesanis'. The likelihood of a Cesanis connection is discussed below.

Even if most of the Medici Atlas's charts were modelled on an assumed Genoese work of around the middle (or perhaps the second half) of the 14th century, a similar problem is experienced here as with the Cornaro Atlas. In each case the copyist will not have reproduced the 'visual signature' of the original chartmaker. Did the draftsman, however, faithfully recreate the hydrographical outlines? And, in the case of early Genoese works, what might those have looked like?

Early Genoese characteristics
Pujades has identified four charts and an atlas that he considers to be Genoese works from the first half of the 14th century [see above Genoese: first quarter 14th century (and the section after that)]. Nothing else has survived by Genoese practitioners until the Beccaris in the following century. It is instructive to look in particular at the treatments of the Isle of Man and Limnos on early Genoese productions. Even if the dating of the Beccari works might still allow them to be considered as models for the Medici Atlas, their outlines for those two features would rule them out.

The Isle of Man [3] was portrayed as a cross by the great majority of chartmakers, from 1321 until the 16th century. The exceptions were mostly Catalan, starting with a simple rectangular form on the 1330 Dalorto/Dulceti. This was elaborated, from the Catalan Atlas onwards, with symmetrical half circles set into the sides, and chamfered corners. This form was still found on the work of the Viladesters. The Medici Atlas outline is a simple progression from the original Dalorto rectangle, with a small groove at the bottom, like the gateway to a castle. Pujades A 26, the second work in that early Genoese group, breaks up that symmetrical form. Unfortunately the chart (C 49), considered to be in the same hand as A 26, does not include the Isle of Man. Finally, in the list of non-cross outlines, the 1424 Pizzigano chart has an idiosyncratic form of its own.

Of the five early Genoese works identified by Pujades only two include the Isle of Man. The distinctively different Paris atlas (A 9) has a unique representation, comprising eight angular headlands, but the outline on the Paris chart (C 11 – in so far as it can be discerned) although very different might perhaps be considered a model that had been simplified for the Medici Atlas.

The Aegean islands have been omitted from the Medici Atlas's general chart of the eastern Mediterranean (sheet 6). This was done intentionally, since the island outlines would have been part of an early drafting stage. Perhaps this exclusion related to the presence in the atlas of a larger-scale sheet devoted to the Aegean, based on a different model. Such a direct link between the construction of sheets based on 14th- and 15th-century outlines respectively demonstrates that the atlas, for its charts at least, is the result of a single overall plan. However, it does mean that there is no opportunity to compare on the two versions the island that is the best overall indicator for shape analysis, namely Limnos.

Instead, we must turn to the Ionian Islands, which occur here just once (on one of the 'original' sheets, no. 6). Comparing the Medici Atlas with those five early Genoese works we find a number of generally similar outlines, particularly on the two closely related charts (Pujades C 10 & 11). However the shapes for Keffalonia and Zakynthos could not have come from such sources. Most indicative is the Medici's Keffalonia, in which the curving northern headland that was already visible on the 1311 Vesconte chart, as well as on the oldest surviving Genoese work (the chart in the Riccardiana (Pujades C 4)), has here been turned into a full coat-hanger loop, as the culmination of a shape quite unlike any potential model identified.

It has, I think, been generally assumed that the content of the standard portolan chart sequence in the Medici Atlas (sheets 4-6 & 8) was based on a mid-14th century model, whereas the enlarged Adriatic and Aegean (sheets 3 & 7) represented later outlines (possibly, as suggested by the toponymic analysis, contemporary with the atlas's construction). If that was the case, any contribution by Cesanis (the person Pujades considers to have provided some of the models for this atlas) could apply only to sheets 3 and 7, or perhaps to some of the other general and non-standard sheets.

A Cesanis connection?
The Medici Atlas outline for Limnos [36] (on the later, larger-scale Aegean sheet) is certainly as precise and elaborate as those on both the 1421 Cesanis chart and the Luxoro Atlas (which is certainly in Cesanis's hand), but they must have different origins. The Medici version moves closer towards a true picture of this immensely complicated coastline than perhaps any other 14th- or 15th-century form. For example, it has twin bays in the north coast and, from west to east, two small and a single very deep bay into the south coast. By contrast, the 1421 Cesanis outline (found also, at least, on the Luxoro atlas, the Alvise de Cesanis copy in the Cornaro atlas, Pujades A 29 & 31, and, simplified, on A 30) has a single bay into the north coast, and a deep bay followed by a lesser inlet along the south. The fact that the 'Cesanis' outline for Limnos (inferior to that on the Medici Atlas) was in common use among Venetian practitioners of his time, and that Francesco's son Alvise (who was still alive in 1496, see Pujades, 2007 p.487) was repeating that same outline years later, is evidence of its being a standard representation, which Francesco de Cesanis would also have used on any model he might have provided for the Medici Atlas.

In connection again with Francesco de Cesanis's son Alvise, it is worth drawing attention to Guernsey (one of the British Channel Islands). The Medici Atlas's distinctive shape (like a curving piece of pipe) has a line of dots (rocks?) to its west, where the later copy in the Cornaro Atlas of an Alvise chart shows a related form, like a horizontal pin-cushion, with the pins to the north. Neither of those forms is at all like the symmetrical jagged outline found on Venetian work in the first half of the 15th century.

The use of a terminal full-stop after each place-name is a distinctive feature of the Medici Atlas and although it is also found on the Luxoro Atlas and Cesanis chart (and apparently nowhere else) there is no question of the Medici Atlas being in Cesanis's hand (on this see Pujades, 2007 p.495a and note 116 on p.504).

Far more noticeable, and evidently unique to the Medici Atlas, is the array of jagged islands north of Ireland. In presentation, these are similar to the treatment on the enlarged chart of the Aegean (no.7) but no equivalent model has been found. It seems unlikely that they were invented by the Medici copyist.

The tentative conclusion, on the basis of the Colour & Shape Analysis, is that, if the Medici Atlas is indeed based on a lost Genoese original, this would have been significantly different from any of the five surviving productions from that city that are supposed to date from before the Medici's presumed model of c.1351. Likewise, any connection with Francesco de Cesanis (rather than, more generally, with Venetian work of his time) would need supporting evidence.

Pujades has identified the Marciana atlas (A 26) and the Florence chart (C 49) as being in the same hand. I was not able to identify this unknown chartmaker's visual signature because of the poor condition of the atlas and the chart's restriction to the eastern half of the normal area.

The chart in the Barcelona Archives (C 50), however, has sufficient unique features to show that we are dealing with the single work of an unknown chartmaker. Most obvious is the treatment of the larger islands, Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, Euboea, Crete and Cyprus, as well as the major estuaries. Each appears to be edged in gold, enclosing a full colour wash, into which a pattern of circles has been set (the scan is not clear). While a little reminiscent of the unsigned and unattributed Ambrosiana chart (C 31, to which Pujades assigns a date of about 1420), the treatment is quite different.

Two specific peculiarities further mark out the Barcelona chart from all other surviving productions. First, an arrangement of four dots to represent the Isle of Man [3]; second, a two-colour circular button, to represent the mythical man [10] (off the south-west of Ireland).

The Lyons atlas looks superficially like the work of Ziroldi with its corner-pieces, though these are emblamatic where those on the 1426 atlas mostly feature saints. That aside, there are no other obvious similarities. This atlas has two distinctive visual features. First, it is unusual in that two colours only are used for the islands, red and green. Second, it is one of three anonymous Italian atlases to supply Chios with a large red Genoese cross of St George [38]. The other two, the [21] Corbitis and [22] Pinelli-Walckenaer atlases, are by the same draftsman, whose distinctive hand (see Chapter p. 402) is quite unlike this. The only other similar treatment of Chios is on the charts of the Catalan Vallseca.

Benincasa [43-5]
(for the detailed Colour & Shape Analysis findings see here – a Microsoft Word document)

[43]. Paris, BnF D21815
Pujades C 74, Venetian, 'Benincasa atelier'
Campbell 24

[44]. Vicenza, Bertoliana ms 524
Pujades C 75, 'Italian', 'Benincasa atelier'
Campbell 124

[45]. Parma, II,29,1621
Pujades A 42, Venetian, third quarter 15th
Campbell 101

The Colour & Shape Analysis table devoted to Benincasa, with another for his successors, relates closely to the separate essay on that prolific chartmaker: The style and content of Grazioso Benincasa's charts: imitation, innovation and repetition

Here, it is sufficient to comment on the remarkable consistency in the C&SA profile across Benincasa's productions and the conclusion that all are evidently in his hand or that of his son Andrea. I could see no evidence in favour of a workshop operation, and the two partial charts that Pujades attributed to a hypothetical Benincasan atelier (his C 74 and C 75) are better interpreted as fully-fledged works by Benincasa from which their original signatures (which would have been at the western neck) had been trimmed off. [On Benincasa's consistency see further Explanatory notes and wider implications (Consistency: Benincasa).]

For Pujades there was no doubt that Benincasa 'was a specialised craftsman, for not even the most ardent sceptics deny that such regular and systematic characteristics needed the support of a well organised atelier employing permanent collaborators' (2007, p.497a). One of the comments I made in the 1987 Chapter (p. 431a) lent accidental weight to that: 'Occasional clumsiness – for example, several attempts at scraping the hidden circles on sheets of one of the British Library's Grazioso Benincasa atlases (Add. MS. 6390) or an abandoned circle on the 1424 [Pizzigano] chart – suggests the inexperienced hand of an apprentice'. In fact, the inexperience seems to have been my own since a new look at charts 7 & 8 on the Pujades DVD (his A 39) shows that the jagged lines are not part of any circle but, while presumably made by careless use of a pair of compasses (dividers), would instead have been the fault of the atlas's owner – thus almost certainly providing additional evidence of the use of such volumes at sea. [The comment about the 1424 chart, where there are actually several false circles, does however remain valid.]

The Parma atlas (Pujades A 42) is a close copy of Benincasa's and is also considered in the essay on that chartmaker – Benincasa, his successors and imitators.

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Vallseca [46-7]
(for the detailed Colour & Shape Analysis findings see here – a Microsoft Word document)

[46]. Florence, BN Centrale, Port.16
Pujades C 41, Vallseca atelier, c.1440 – see Pujades, 2009, p.332, 336
Campbell 78

[47]. Paris, BnF, Cartes et Plans, D3005 (six fragments)
Pujades C 43, Vallseca atelier, c.1447 – may be in the same hand as the chart dated 1447, see Pujades, 2009, p.332
Campbell 22

Summary of conclusions
These are tentative. Pujades's claim that the two charts above are products of a Vallseca atelier is broadly supported by the findings of the Colour & Shape Analysis. But those results, and a closer examination of some island forms, suggest that the charts from this atelier, whether signed or not, reveal considerable variation between the productions of what appear to be several different people. Part of that seems to result from Vallseca's coastline model excluding those medium-sized islands that other chartmakers might have traced (or, more likely, pounced). But, in general, if all these charts were produced under Vallseca's direction, it must have been a very loose one.

The putative Gabriel de Vallseca workshop is the most interesting of those proposed by Pujades, since the justification for it is developed in his 2009 study of Vallseca's 1439 chart (pp.327-30). Vallseca signed a contract to produce 24 charts over a period of half a year, in other words at a rate of one a week. Extrapolating from that, Pujades estimated that Vallseca might have produced as many as 2000 charts over a lifetime, a quantity that would have necessitated the semi mass-production procedures of a workshop. However, for a different interpretation see above, The Vallseca contract of 1433.

Because of the price quoted for an individual chart, Pujades is confident that the 1433 contract concerned utilitarian, non-embellished charts. There is nothing that might correspond with those among Vallsecan survivors. Since the C&SA concerns three signed and dated charts, as well as the two discussed here attributed to a Vallseca atelier, and since all those have typical, and expensive, Catalan adornments, it might seem unlikely that the C& SA findings could throw any new light on possible workshop practice relating to the simplest kind of chart. However, would not all Vallseca charts have been produced in a single workshop, with most of the procedures shared, since the ornate chart is no more than an embellished version of an ordinary one? [See What is the difference between a plain and a de luxe chart?.]

Some observations, though, can be made. Pujades (2007, p.493a) had noted two different hands on the 1439 Vallseca chart, and of the five surviving works attributable to the Vallseca 'firm' (signed or unsigned) four appear to me to be in different hands. Pujades identified two works at the Bibliothèque national de France, one dated 1447 and the fragmentary pieces (his C 43 – which could originally have had a signature) as the work of a single draftsman. They are certainly closely similar though I noticed that the 1447 chart (like the signed chart of 1449) used a very plain initial 'C', whereas the other three works add a curling extension to the top.

Different people working from the same basic model is what would be expected from workshop practice. But the visual analysis throws doubt on that. Not because of different treatment of ornamental features, since those might have been the work of an artist perhaps drawing freehand and introducing intentional variations. That the arms placed centrally over Sardinia and Sicily are inside a diamond on the 1439 chart, within a circular frame on the attributed Florence chart (C 41), and presented like a shield on the 1447 Paris chart and its supposed (fragmentary) copy, while being absent altogether from the chart of 1449, is probably of no great significance. What matters is that such special treatment for those islands seems to have been a part of Vallseca's visual signature. [On that see further The presence of an armorial device within the separate countries of the British Isles, as well as within Corsica, Sardinia and Sicily]. Similarly, C 41's lack of the Genoese cross over Chios, found on the three signed charts [but not covered on C 43's fragments], need not cast doubt on the Vallseca authorship.

However, what raises interesting questions is the variety of island outlines found for the studied areas in the Ionian Islands and Aegean archipelago. It is probably true to say that most chartmakers repeated broadly, or exactly, the same outlines from one chart to the next. Indeed, since the outline on their pattern might differ from other practitioners, it can be a way of recognising an individual's work. With Vallseca this would be very difficult. It is hard to make the point without illustration but compare, for example, the 1439 and later Vallseca outlines for Kefallonia and Zakynthos (Ionian Is) as well as Limnos and Skyros (Aegean), adding in those on the attributed Florence chart of c.1440 (C 41). The obvious conclusion is that these were drawn freehand and carelessly on the basis of a common model. Since the draftsmen were presumably aware that the outlines of Limnos and Skyros, at least, were wholly imaginary, this would not have mattered. But this seems to indicate that, in Vallseca's studio, those larger islands did not form part of the traced or pounced outlines, in contrast, for example, to the precisely reproduced configuration given to the Nile delta. If so, this would seem to differentiate Vallseca from the practice adopted by other practitioners who appear to have transferred those larger island outlines to the new chart along with the continental coastlines [though a resolution of that point requires access to comparative images].

Since the C&SA does not suggest any reasons to challenge Pujades's attributions, there are other hydrographical observations that raise further questions about the way that the Vallseca atelier operated. The first is the large blue island of ymador to the south of the Canaries found on the attributed Florence chart (C 41, with a suggested date of c.1440) but not on the signed Vallseca chart of 1439 (although the island might have been considered to lie beyond the limits of that work). Cortesão (1969-71, 2, p.151) notes that this island is reminiscent of the himadoro on the 1424 Pizzigano chart. But why, if the Florence chart is later than that of 1439, was ymador not included on the latter? Surely it would have been present on the workshop model, unless that island was added to the model after 1439. The two later Vallseca charts cannot help here as they do not extend beyond the Mediterranean.

Another hydrographical point does raise questions about the model used for the construction of the Florence chart (C 41). It concerns faxio/fasso [47] at the mid-point of the Black Sea's east coast, marking the point that a major river (the Enguri) emerges, with a variously shaped island at its entrance. On most charts this river, whose identity was obviously not clear to the makers, has to be assumed (and that includes the Catalan/Estense world map) but Vallseca, at least on the 1439 and c.1440 Florence charts, actually depicts the river. Besides that, there are major differences between the treatments on those two charts.

In 1439, the small red island is placed, logically, at the river entrance, alongside ffasso and between lipotimo and paliostoma, with san grigo as the next name to the south. This is the pattern found earlier on the three Viladesters charts (1413-28). The Florence chart has no fasso and places the red circle three names further to the north, well separated from the large river, which is here placed south of s. grigo, i.e. two names further south than in 1439. The 1447 chart is truncated at that point but the related fragments in Paris and the 1449 chart are similar and evidently show a different later conception of that area. fasso reappears in its earlier position, though there is no river (at least on the 1449 chart) and the island now takes on the 'spanner- head' shape. The difference between the 1439 and Florence charts may, once again, highlight the distinction between what was copied from the model (the main coastline) and what was added freehand (the placement of the island and river). But, assuming that the Florence chart was an official production of a Vallseca workshop, it does not indicate close oversight by the person in charge.

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R. Soler [48]
(for the detailed Colour & Shape Analysis findings see here – a Microsoft Word document)

[48]. Paris, BnF, Cartes et Plans, B8268
Pujades C 51, second quarter 15th, attributed to a Soler atelier – see Pujades, 2009 p.313
Campbell 16

[Berlin, Humboldt Univ., H14-12
Pujades C 52, second quarter 15th, signed R. Soler but any date there might have been is now illegible
Campbell 34]

Pujades (2007) p. 504, note 87 managed to read the name 'Rafel Soler', but not a date, on the vellum neck of the Berlin chart. This was enough to move one chart from the anonymous to the signed list. He also attributed a Paris chart to R. Soler and provided comparative illustrations of the two on p.259 (see also pp. 492-3 for a discussion of the two works).

The signed work stops at the end of the Mediterranean, which deprives us of useful Colour & Shape diagnostic features in the Atlantic. But the match of tones and treatments is sufficient to show that Rafel Soler was unusually consistent even if – a very small detail this – he chose, on the signed work, to place on the island the first two letters of Aigues Mortes (a unique feature of that chart) [23] and likewise the 'da' of Damiata [51] in the nearby island, while the anonymous work just separates out the first letter in each case.

The condition of neither chart is particularly good and it is difficult to be certain about the letter forms. But are they not both in the same hand, which leans to the left? The treatment of the initial 'I' of Inglatera on the unsigned Paris chart [the signed work does not include the British Isles] is highly distinctive and illustrative of Soler's occasional flourishes. More useful for comparative purposes is the contraction for the first three letters of Tripoli (both in Lebanon and Libya). The latter name, Tripoli de Barbaria, can be seen most elaborately on the signed Berlin chart. If it can be confirmed that these two charts are in the same hand, is there any need to posit a Soler workshop? Can we not say instead that both are by this chartmaker, whom Pujades has rescued from obscurity?

Pujades suggests (2009, pp.314-5) that Rafel was continuing the tradition of his grandfather Guillem Soler, of whom we have two works datable to the period 1368-85. However, comparison of the C&SA features from the work of Guillem and Rafel show little similarity, which is perhaps not surprising after a gap of 50 or so years.

Rafel's work not only has one or two distinctive features, at least two of his conventions seem to have been imitated by Benincasa:

  • A four-leaf clover on Tenerife [14] – next seen on Benincasa
  • The two stripes on Majorca, arranged SW/NE [20] – next seen on Benincasa
  • Detaching the first two letters of Aigues Mortes ('ay') [23] – unique
  • A diamond shape for fassio / faxio [47] - unique

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Roselli [49-51a]
(for the detailed Colour & Shape Analysis findings see here – a Microsoft Word document)

[49]. Paris, BnF, Cartes et Plans C 59096
Pujades C 70, third quarter 15th, Roselli workshop
Campbell 20

[50]. New Haven, Yale University, Beinecke Library, 49cea/1425
Pujades C 71, third quarter 15th, Roselli workshop
Campbell 145
[NB because the scan on the DVD is not of high quality, use instead the Beinecke Library's webpage. Click 'See all images', then select 'Image ID: 1027161', finally click on the 'Zoom' option to bring up the MrSID image.]

[51]. Modena, Estense, C.G.A.5b
Pujades C 72, third quarter 15th, Roselli workshop
Campbell 93

[51a]. Modena, Estense, C.G.A.1 'Catalan (Estense) world map'
Pujades (2007) did not discuss this
Campbell (not included in the Census but see Chapter p.379 (note 71)) [for a detailed note, see the separate entry below]

[--- The fragment of a chart with Ludwig Rosenthal (Munich), Catalogue 163 & 167 (1920s?) was attributed to Roselli, but could not be considered here.]

[--- New York, Hispanic Society, K15]
Pujades C 73. As explained in a pop-up note when you click on that image on his DVD, this was mistakenly considered to be a fourth Roselli workshop production, but once Pujades saw a reproduction, he realised it was Venetian and from the later 15th (or more probably early 16th) century. The tables on pp.65 & 206 of his 2007 book include erroneous entries for this chart, which could not then be corrected. It should be pointed out that the Hispanic Society had described it as late 15th-century Venetian, see Sider (1992) p.8.]

On the details of Roselli's style and development see Heinrich Winter, 'Petrus Roselli', Imago Mundi 9 (1952): 1-11. Having completed the note below I looked at that article and noticed that Winter discussed the Modena chart (on p.11), noting that the border trimming had removed the author's legend but preserved the 'typical ornamental moulding ... so that his authorship may be regarded as certain'. Winter also mentioned the Paris and New Haven maps, concluding: 'It is true that there are some similarities to the manner of Roselli, for instance the city images, but they are only similar, not identical with those designed by Roselli, which are the same on all his maps'. So, independently, we came to the same conclusions.

Summary of the conclusions
Paris (C 70) was not drawn by him, nor does it imitate his work.

Yale (C 71) is visually closer to Roselli's style, but deviates from his invariable treatment. The unusual form of the initial 'R', found on this and on the Paris chart, suggests a possible common authorship.

Modena (C 72) is apparently in the same hand as Roselli's signed work (presumably his own) and its overall appearance matches that of the fuller charts Roselli produced from 1464 onwards, This should therefore be treated as the eleventh surviving work by Roselli, having originally been signed on the trimmed western edge.

The Catalan/Estense world map's probable attribution to Roselli is confirmed and a date of c.1462-4 proposed [see the separate entry below].

The results of a survey of the large and small visual features of Roselli's productions finds no evidence pointing to the existence of an atelier, in the sense of productions created under the direction of the master chartmaker but distinct from his own work.

Ten signed charts by Roselli have survived, two of which are not available in high quality reproduction. One has the same date as his earliest chart of 1447 and was at one time with Kenneth Nebenzahl in Chicago. It was illustrated in his Catalogue 20, item 164 with a photograph which is sufficient to discern the larger visual features only (Campbell Census 178). The other is from 1469, a later date than any surviving chart. It was originally with Vollbehr and then sold at Sotheby's in 1988 but no illustration is available to me (Campbell Census 180 and now E.20). Of the other early chartmakers, only Benincasa has left us more signed works.

The eight available scans give a good corpus against which to compare the three works attributed to Roselli. First, we need to consider the signed charts. What can we learn from those about the consistency of Roselli's island and estuary colouring, the shapes of significant features, and any visual development that might have taken place over the 21 years spanned by the accessible surviving charts?

A glance at the Roselli Colour & Shape Analysis (and ignoring the three attributed works) is sufficient to demonstrate that, among the signed works, there is a great measure of predictability in the use of tints, particularly since the mauve/red/pink distinctions are probably due only to my fallible perception or differences in ageing. In four cases, the earliest accessible chart (that of 1447 in Volterra) is different from all those that follow. Given the consistency afterwards, this presumably represents a conscious change by Roselli between 1447 and 1449 coupled, perhaps, by an appreciation of the advantages of consistency. This seems to conflict with Pujades's statement (2007, p.493a) about Roselli's 'certain stylistic and chromatic diversity, although invariably within the confines of a characteristic style clearly distinguishable from that of other cartographers'. If, however, that comment refers just to the larger visual elements, it would serve to emphasise my contention that the smaller features analysed in the C&SA tables tend to take their consistency from being part of the basic unthinking construction, whereas the ornament - presumably drawn free-hand by an experienced illuminator – would inevitably vary, possibly intentionally.

However, if the colours were applied consistently, the same did not apply to the shape of the Aegean island Limnos (stalimene) [36]. The island's contorted outlines prompted a wide variety of diagnostically useful shapes from different chartmakers [on which see Explanatory notes and wider implications ('Limnos')] and Roselli's charts show erratic variation. It must be stressed that the attempts at Limnos's shape, some of which are clearly fanciful, were not just casually drawn freehand but conform, more or less faithfully, to one from a range of patterns going back to Vesconte. Since extracts cannot be taken from the DVD accompanying the 2007 Pujades volume, I cannot illustrate this point, and describing a complex shape is not likely to be helpful. Nor have I been able to compare the variant shapes but have had, instead, to remember them or draw each one out. The analysis crudely counts the number of 'lollipop projections', emerging potentially from three of the four sides of the island, but a small change could turn a lollipop into a narrow finger promontory – an alteration, which since it dealt with imaginary geography, is not worth overstressing.

But, to generalise, Roselli started in 1449 (the 1447 chart culminated at the Adriatic) with an outline for Limnos [36] close to that found on the 1403 Francesco Beccari chart. Then, with his next surviving production, the chart of 1456, he moved to a markedly different outline, and one not observed elsewhere, with a single large bay into the north coast and a pair of deep bays in from the south. Since that was an attempt at realism it is surprising that he added two 'lollipops' projecting to the west. Thereafter Roselli reverted, at least in 1462 and 1466, to his original version. However, in 1464, 1465 and 1468, he used a variant of the Beccarian form, which transformed the two westward 'lollipops' into promontories. So, if the original form is A, the unique 1456 form B, and the amended original C, the sequence of seven charts runs thus: A, B, A, C, C, A, C. We can only speculate what that might tell us about the multiplicity of patterns owned by Roselli and why different ones were used.

Before looking at the three supposed atelier productions, it is worth testing if any developments can be discerned among the more obvious visual features of Roselli's charts, since these could have bearing on the dating of the attributed works, assuming they are indeed based on Roselli originals. Viewed strictly chronologically, there are seven elements that do not appear before a given date but are regularly present thereafter. Of course, any of these supposed 'developments' might be no more than coincidence. Since they are all additions rather than changes, they could easily have been omitted afterwards.

Visual features
From the outset, Roselli's charts include city vignettes and many flags, as well as the large green Granada mountain. His early style can be seen in the chart of 1447 in Volterra – as confirmed by the reduced illustration in the Nebenzahl catalogue featuring the other chart with that date. By 1456, Roselli was using a wavy border decoration; by 1462 he had placed armorial shields on Sardinia and Sicily (they had been there on the three British islands from the beginning), and he added (usually) five wind heads around the edge; until finally, by 1464, he had extended to the north to take in the Baltic, and inserted inland rivers, the Atlas Mountains and African rulers in their tents.

It had been hoped to use two other features that were introduced in 1464, namely a picture of the Ottoman sultan inside his flag-topped tent in Asia Minor, and a vignette of Fez with its flag. However, those disappeared after 1465 and 1466 respectively, so their absence from the Paris and Modena charts (the one in Yale does not cover either area) cannot be considered significant. Nor, perhaps, should much be made of the fact that the Modena chart is unique in including vignettes for Barcelona and Valencia (to go with their flags, which are found on all Roselli charts) as well as the fourth in a line of identically flagged vignettes just south of the Baltic and next to the horseshoe of the Bohemian mountains and the vignette of Prague. This one is apparently labelled coconia, which name is repeated nearby. As carconia (?) it appears, without its flag, on the Catalan Estense world map [see below, where there are further comments on Roselli's stylistic development].

It might have been supposed that the level of decoration would have corresponded to a differential price structure, as Pujades surmises in the case of Vallseca (2009, p.329). But, with six separate elements displaying the identical chronological pattern of absence until a particular date and invariable presence after it (with perhaps the earliest five charts lacking the feature and at least the last four having it) it must surely be the case that these 'macro' visual features reveal a chronological development on the part of Roselli. Unless an attempt is made to argue that the more elaborate the chart, the more likely it is to survive, thus skewing the record.

The only possible exception to what is, I am aware, an unfashionable developmental interpretation relates to the lack of the wavy border on the 1465 London chart. However, the vellum appears to have been trimmed around the edges, perhaps taking with it any such border there might have been.

A Roselli atelier?
It is now time to turn to the three charts suggested by Pujades as the product of a hypothetical Roselli atelier. None provides the complete coverage of a full chart. The Paris chart (Pujades C 70) goes no further east than Sicily, the Yale chart excludes the Atlantic, and the trimmed Modena chart (the fullest of the three) now ends before the Canary Islands. The linked Table 3 (which is a Microsoft Word document) relates the colour match of each attributed work to what was normally (or exceptionally) found on a signed Roselli chart. A similar comparison is made with the work of some of his contemporaries.

The three works proposed as examples of a hypothetical Roselli workshop can now be assessed against the C&SA findings and the development that can be seen in the chronological sequence of his surviving productions. A comparison of the handwriting is attempted, and certain peculiarities in the attributed charts are taken into account. The findings of the statistical analysis (Table 3), plotting the match of island and estuary colours and shapes, is borne out in relation to the steadily growing complexity of the visual adornment of Roselli's charts.

The linked Table 4 (a Microsoft Word document) plots the relevant features as they appeared on the signed and attributed charts. All three attributed works should be placed after 1462 because of their inclusion of features, missing from the first five signed Roselli charts drawn up to that year, and then invariably shown afterwards. If based on his models, these three charts must therefore date from the later part of the period of Roselli's known production or even beyond it.

The Paris chart (Pujades C 70) is the furthest from any Roselli model here, just as it was in the Colour & Shape Analysis, though allowance has to be made for the fact that it covers just the Atlantic coasts and then as far as Sicily. Because of its peculiarities, it cannot be interpreted as a simplified version of a Roselli chart. There are some colour choices in the Atlantic not found on any signed Roselli work but the most obvious peculiarity of the Paris chart are its heavily lettered names for Ireland and England, which take the space of the shields for the three countries (with Scotland) found on all Roselli charts. Note particularly the highly ornate initial letter for England.

The Beinecke Library chart in Yale University (Pujades C 71) has a closer C&SA profile (though not nearly so close as that with the Bertran & Ripoll chart) but again there are several colour choices that do not appear on any original Roselli work, among them a blue Corfu and a mauve Lefkada. Limnos is again useful here, since its outline is one I have not noticed elsewhere. The uncoloured Majorca (not discernible on the scan supplied to Pujades but visible on the higher resolution Beinecke scan (see above)) is noticeably different from the Roselli model, which would (after 1447) place about six diagonal red stripes (north-west to south-east) over underlying gold (or possibly silver).

The third attributed chart, in Modena (Pujades C 72), offers a perfect match in its colour choices to the Roselli norm (leaving aside three illegible features). However, its Limnos is slightly different from the shape on any signed work. Although broadly similar to the outline found on the chart of 1449, it has been modified to leave just one 'lollipop' along the west coast. It is reasonable to consider this as just another Roselli variant of the Limnos outline. Overall, this chart, with its extension to take in the Baltic, is very similar to those produced by Roselli between 1464 and 1468.

Now, the question of handwriting. Others with the appropriate expertise may disagree with me but I can see no reason to doubt that all the signed charts are in the same hand, presumably that of Roselli himself. This has few obvious peculiarities but the curling extensions from the top of the C and G are noticeable (and also found on some of the Vallseca charts and Bertran & Ripoll's of 1456). These features are not present in the attributed Paris and Yale charts, which instead have a detached dash where the signed charts have the extension. Those two works also share a very distinctive initial R, of which each chart has more than one example. See, for example, on the Paris chart, Redondela and Ribadeo (Portugal) and, on the Yale chart, Roma and Rasacalxero (at the point where the north African coast turns to the north). If that suggests the same hand was responsible for the Paris and Yale charts (or might that device have been used more generally in Majorca at that time?) then the noticeable differences described above need to be explained. The simplest answer would be that the same reproductive scribe was copying from different models – but that depends on confirmation that just one hand was involved.

Unfortunately the Modena chart image on the Pujades DVD is not sharp enough for confident analysis but it seems to me to be in a hand very similar if not identical to Roselli's. That would certainly fit in with the chart's perfect match in the C&SA. Direct visual comparison with all the other signed charts is not currently possible, but if it were to become feasible in the future it might well confirm the strong affinity already revealed through comparing the illustration of the 1464 chart in the Pujades volume (pp.324-5) with the DVD's scan of the Modena chart (C 72). The Modena chart looks in every way like a Roselli production.

The Modena chart is complete along the top but trimmed on the other three sides. By analogy with complete signed charts, and working from traces left to the east and south, it is clear that it would originally have had the wind heads, town vignettes and tented African rulers that formed an invariable part of Roselli's visual style after 1464. Significantly, the truncation to the west passes exactly through a supplementary intersection point, itself an extension (along the central east-west line) from the most westerly of the main intersection points. All the surviving charts show that Roselli placed his signature to the west of that subsidiary intersection point (or in just one case, level with it). Had there been a signature on the Modena chart it would almost certainly have been trimmed off. No other clearly Rosellian chart is unsigned. If that was the case here it would be unique among the ten survivors, and there is no obvious reason why that should be so. There is a strong likelihood, therefore, that this chart, rather than being a 'workshop' production, was, in its full original form, another signed and dated work by, and in the hand of, Roselli himself. The three additional features noted above could perhaps indicate that it should be dated later than 1468. Pujades notes that Roselli was active up to 1489 (2009, p.487).

As for the Paris and Yale charts, the evidence set out above makes it hard to support the claim that they were produced in a Roselli workshop. If there is a particular character to the Rosellian toponymy, which led Pujades to attribute these works to his hypothetical workshop, then some common or indirect source must have provided that information. The creator of the Paris chart made no attempt to imitate Roselli's style – indeed he flaunts his own individuality – and, on the grounds of handwriting, island and estuary colouring, as well as the omission of elements that are invariably found on Roselli's authenticated productions, there seems no reason to treat that or the Yale chart as having been produced under the direct supervision of the master, Roselli. That is surely what a workshop must imply. Instead, if the shared capital R form found on both Paris and Yale charts is confirmed as the work of a single individual, he needs to be added to the list of hitherto unknown practitioners, even if as no more than a copyist.

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Catalan Estense world map [51a]
(for the detailed Colour & Shape Analysis findings see here – a Microsoft Word document)

[51a]. Modena, Estense, C.G.A.1 'Catalan (Estense) world map'
Pujades (2007) did not discuss this
Campbell (not included in the Census but see 'Chapter' p.379 (note 71))

For an enlarged scan see the MEDEA-Chart database.

In the 1987 chapter referred to above I was over-hasty in mentioning this merely in a footnoted list of those world maps that incorporated portolan chart outlines, but whose 'scale was rarely sufficient for more than a sprinkling of names'. For details of other possible candidates, including two fragments of large world maps in the Topkapi Saray, Istanbul (for which Pujades could not obtain scans), see Destombes (1984, pp.193-234).

The so-called 'Catalan (or Estense) world map' displays the typical embellishment of Catalan portolan chartmaking. It has been assigned to the period c.1450-60 and, specifically, to the chartmaker Petrus Roselli (Pere Rossell). The questions of date and authorship will be considered in a moment.

There are two good facsimiles of this, the most recent (with an accompanying CD) being Antichi planisferi e portolani (Modena: Il Bulino; Milan: Y. Press, 2004). I have access instead to the facsimile published by Moleiro in 1996 in Barcelona, with a text by Ernesto Milano and full transcription of the place-names. Apart from a differently arranged rhumb line network, to take account of the much increased extent to the north, east and south, it is, at its heart, a portolan chart, and deserves to be considered as such in the literature, for its content rather than its purpose. Indeed, like the Catalan Atlas, it is actually more a world chart, than a world map. The treatment of the interior of the regions not normally found on a portolan chart is handled in a similar way to those parts of Europe and North Africa that are usually present on Catalan charts.

The normal portolan chart region occupies almost exactly half the overall diameter of the Estense world map, which, at 113 cm, is only a little larger than the east-west dimension of a typical chart at around 90 cm. This may well have been a factor in the choice of scale for this world chart. The dense toponymy of a portolan chart (Pujades recorded 1,854 names on the 1439 Vallseca chart) demanded a minimum scale. Below that it would be too difficult to write the place-names in the restricted space available. So, rather like zooming in or out of an Internet map today, a drop in scale would mean a large drop in the number of names. The world map drawn by the chartmaker Albertin de Virga is a good example of how the coastal names had, effectively, to be abandoned because of the work's modest scale. To have reduced the names by, say, a half, would have involved the mapmaker in a time-consuming process of selection. It would have been possible to include just the significant (red) names, as was done for a literary work, Dati's 'La sfera', but there is no evidence that any chartmaker ever did that. Otherwise the realistic choice was between the full usual coastal toponymy or none at all. [Which is the labour-saving route taken by fakers, see Fakes: Notes on selected maps – 'Portolan charts (1509-25)'.]

Sample checks reveal that the Estense map, despite being drawn at much less than the scale of a typical chart, still displays almost the full selection of expected place-names. Comparison with the list of Valencia coastal names given for Roselli (Pujades, 2007 p.397) shows that a small number of names have had to be sacrificed (including Alicante, invariably in red). This probably applies particularly in the congested areas around peninsulas, and would reflect logistical necessity rather than toponymic editing.

The reason for labouring this point is to establish that the Catalan world 'map' was certainly made by a Catalan chartmaker, and as an extension to a portolan chart rather than as a newly conceived work. The Catalan Atlas provides one of the precedents for this, as, on a more modest scale, do the 1339 Dulceti and 1439 Vallseca charts. While the Estense's extension gives much attention to the Indian Ocean, the join between the surveyed Mediterranean and Black seas on the one hand and the imagined coastlines beyond is clear evidence of the latter's source in literary texts rather than navigators' experience. The contrast between the Black Sea, left clear of shading, and the Caspian Sea, treated with coloured wavy lines, provides a graphic illustration of the boundary between the portolan chart and the world map. {This sentence added 11 June 2016}.

Earlier researchers thought this world chart belonged to the 14th century, but its inclusion of West African discoveries made by Alvaro Fernandes in 1446 established that as a terminus post quem. As R.A. Skelton acknowledged in his entry in Destombes (ed.) Mappemondes, (1964, pp.217-221, specifically p.221), it was Marcel Destombes in 1955 who had identified Roselli as the most likely author. Skelton himself found a close connection with that chartmaker's later work (1464-8). Does the Colour & Shape Analysis (C&SA) throw any light on the work's authorship and dating? Is it by Roselli and, if so, how does it fit into his stylistic development?

Toponymic selection and name forms are important tools in portolan chart analysis, just as commentary on the visual elements of illustrated Catalan charts needs an art historian's expertise. Neither of those elements, however, could be considered in detail here.

If the Estense map is not by Roselli might any of his known Majorcan contemporaries be candidates? Apart from the possibility of it being the work of one of the shadowy figures identified by Pujades (2007, pp.486-7), we have surviving Catalan productions from that period by Rafel Soler, Gabriel de Vallseca and the two who combined on the 1456 chart, Jaume Bertran and Berenguer Ripoll.

The C&SA findings initially provide cautious confirmation of Roselli's authorship, with an 88% match [see Table 3 (which is a Microsoft Word document)]. However, when looked at more closely it is evident that none of the Estense colour choices is different from those found on Roselli's charts. Three of the four points of difference between the Estense map and the Roselli norm involve no more than a lack of colour where it would be expected – on the mythical Atlantic island of man [10], on the Aegean island of Lesbos [37] and on the large island in the Dnipro estuary [45] – while the fourth concerns the small estuary island, shaped like an old-fashioned spanner, at the mid-point of the Black Sea's east coast, near fasso/faxio [47]. Normally left uncoloured by Roselli, it is here coloured red, as by most other chartmakers. Omitting colour may have no significance, particularly when working at a smaller scale, and the absence of the island habitually found at the Danube entrance is probably due to that same cause. But adding a bold dash of red to a feature Roselli never otherwise noticed, is unexpected.

A similar exercise found a 48% match between the Estense map and the signed and attributed R. Soler charts, a 77% match with the single Bertran & Ripoll chart, and an 82% correlation with the combined work of Vallseca. Considering that I found a 100% match between Roselli's certain work and one of the charts attributed to him – coincidentally, also in the Estense Library in Modena – these findings cannot (on their own) be considered conclusive evidence of a Roselli authorship. Although Vicenç M. Rosselló i Verger, had noted in his 'Les cartes portolanes mallorquines' (2000, p.62) that there was little doubt that it should be attributed to Pere Rosselli around 1460.

The question of handwriting is for an expert palaeographer (which I am not) but it cannot be ignored. The Catalan Estense map is obviously not in Soler's distinctive handwriting [see comments above under R. Soler]. The variety of hands identified in the work of Vallseca or his atelier, make it difficult to identify such work. The latest surviving Vallseca chart is dated 1449 but, according to Pujades (2007, p.486), he was active as late as 1467, which could leave his workshop as a possible candidate for the Estense map. Finally, the Bertran & Ripoll scan on the Pujades DVD is not of sufficient quality to make out precise letter forms. The National Maritime Museum's online scan [search for 'bertran'], can no longer be enlarged to legible resolution [March 2012]. When viewed in the previous high resolution [2011], the hand (or hands?) seemed different to that of the Estense.

Thus, Destombes's attribution to Roselli remains highly probable. A number of the letter-forms in the Estense's handwriting match those in Roselli's work. A comparison of the name forms for the Valencia coast used by Roselli (from Pujades, 2007, p.397) with those on the Estense (as given in the 1996 facsimile) reveals considerable agreement – apart from the occasional omissions from the world map because of space restrictions. A similar comparison could be made for the much longer sequence covering most of the Adriatic.

On the basis of an assumed Roselli attribution, the further question of dating comes into play. The Estense map is conventionally described as c.1450 or c.1450-60. As already mentioned, it cannot be earlier than the west African discoveries of 1446, to which it refers. But how late might it be?

Skelton pointed to similarities between the Estense map and the later Roselli charts from 1464-68 [no image is available for the chart of 1469]. The Estense certainly includes several elements which appear on the last four accessible Roselli charts, having previously been omitted from the earlier five. Extending north to take in the Baltic involved a major decision to increase the range of his standard chart. However, adding inland rivers, rulers in North Africa and the Atlas Mountains were elaborations of what was already there. But do those help with the dating of the Estense map? Those features, and some others that come and go on the later Roselli charts, can all be seen on the 1439 Vallseca chart, and presumably on other lost works from that source. Why, then did Roselli wait 17 years to include them [1447 to 1464]? And if he had produced the Estense map in, say 1450 or 1455, with its inland rivers, Atlas Mountains and African rulers, why did he not also add those to the already much-embellished charts of 1456 and 1462?

West Africa
The year 1464 is significant for Roselli's work, in a different way. As discussed in the Benincasa study Africa – 'Stage 3', in that year (if not before) Roselli extended the west African coast to the south, giving it a new outline along with a sequence of fresh names. None of Roselli's earlier dated works (1447-62) had gone beyond Cape Bojador (buyetdor). For the coastline below that headland the Estense's names broadly match the earlier name sequence, introduced on the 1448 Bianco chart, and with none of the later names included. On the charts of 1464 and 1465 Roselli displayed instead the first part of the new toponymic list seen in full on the extra sheet added to Benincasa's atlases from 1468 onwards. Because of space restrictions on those charts, even with their extension to the south, the section of toponymy Roselli could show involved no more than a re-naming of part of the coastline discovered up to 1444. This allowed him to document the names a little beyond Cape Bianco, but that was well short of Andrea Bianco's terminus in 1448 (on a chart devoted to the Atlantic and arranged vertically rather than horizontally). [For the comparative name lists, including those for the Estense map, see Table 5: Comparing West African place names from samotamat to cauo de sancta maria (a Microsoft Word document).]

But space restriction did not apply to the Estense map, which, like the Bianco chart, goes as far as C. Rosso [here cgroso], with an unconvincing C.Verde next to it. Since Roselli must have come into possession of the new Portuguese information no later than 1464 (when he first includes it), there is no reason to suppose he would have reverted to the superseded outline and toponymy after that date, even if on his charts of 1466 and 1468 he chose, as before, to stop at Bojador.

As pointed out by Relaño (2001, p.103) there is a note beside C. Rosso indicating that this is the end of the western part of Africa. The coastline on the Estense map changes colour at this point, emphasising the distinction between the known and the unknown – further evidence that its author was not in possession of new information. {This paragraph added 26 January 2013}.

Indeed, the new African information might have come to Roselli a little before 1464. The names added by Benincasa in 1468 below C.Rosso (discovered by Fernandes in 1446 and the terminal point for both Andrea Bianco and the Estense World) come from the same explorer's voyage in 1447 and then, after a long pause, from Sintra's of 1460 and 1461. Since Bianco had not been aware of the Fernandes discoveries made the year before he drew his 1448 chart, and since such discoveries were not recorded on any known intervening chart, it seems likely that all the information on developments in the period 1447-61 would have reached Roselli at the same time, and via a Portuguese chart this time, not the hearsay Bianco had to depend on. If so, that would mean that Roselli saw that hypothetical chart between 1461 and 1464.

It might have followed logically from the link highlighted by Skelton between the Estense map and the more ornate style seen on Roselli's work from 1464 onwards that the Estense map would be assigned to the period 1464-8 (or, more strictly, 1462-8, from the date of the last of his less-elaborated charts). However, this seems not to have happened. Instead we have been presented with weakly supporting datings somewhere in the decade after 1450. Ernesto Milano's text accompanying the 1996 Moleiro facsimile offers a chronological resumé of earlier opinions. The Cape Verde Islands – not shown on the Estense map – feature prominently in a line of reasoning that attempts to date the map between the apparent discoveries of Cadamosto in 1454-6 and the islands' settlement by Antonio da Noli in 1460 (pp. 83, 123). Arguing from absence is always questionable.

Because of its west African content we can therefore be sure the Estense was created during the period 1446-1464. The visual evidence is less certain. The earliest accessible Roselli chart, that of 1447 in Volterra, treats at least four C&SA features differently to the way they were consistently handled afterwards. None of those appears in the same way on the Estense map.

Unless there are other justifications for the earlier provisional dating that means we can broaden the potential range slightly, from the conventional c.1450-60, to c.1447-64. This would take account of the possibility that Roselli could have included the pictorial elements, first seen on his work in 1464, on lost charts earlier than that of 1462 which omits them. But he is highly unlikely to have reverted to an archaic account of the Portuguese African discoveries, which are given such prominence on the Estense world map. With so much evidence pointing to the first part of the 1460s, my preferred date for the Estense map, therefore, would be c.1462-4.

Ramon Pujades (2023) has carried out a very thorough examination into the authorship and dating I had suggested and endorses my 1462-4 dating [p. 241/263]. However, he also brings highly detailed arguments to refute my assertion that certain unsigned charts should not be attributed to a Roselli [Rossell] atelier [pp . 244-/266 - 251/273]. I am happy to accept those. {This paragraph added 26 March 2024}

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Arabic [52]
(for the detailed Colour & Shape Analysis findings see here – a Microsoft Word document)

[52]. Milan, Ambrosiana, SP2. 259
Pujades C 54, first half 15th
Campbell 89

The so-called Maghreb 'chart' extends from the British Isles to Corsica and Sardinia. It contains few Colour & Shape diagnostic features and little can be learnt from it in that respect. It is, however, unusual in using just green (?) and red for the island colouring.

For an extended note on this chart see the Census update page (no.89).

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For the full details of the works mentioned above see the Bibliography

Tables of signed, attributed, anonymous and workshop productions (a Microsoft Word document)
Summary table of the features analysed (a Microsoft Word document)

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