Riding the wave


The Atlas Luxoro

The Atlas, kept in the Biblioteca Civica Berio in Genoa, comes from the collections of the Genoese Tammar Luxoro, an artist and an art-lover, who sold it in 1899 to the Municipality of Genoa. It is attributed to the Genoese cartographer Pietro Vesconte because of its similarities with other atlases of the same author; if so, it probably dates back to the early 14th century. It cannot be excluded, despite the small size of its charts (8 charts, mm. 157x112), that it was originally intended for practical use in navigation. The geographical representation starts from the British Isles and the west coast of Africa to the Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea and Sea of Azov. These undoubtedly were regions frequented by the Genoese in the course of their mercantile activities.

It has the usual features of medieval maps: the graphic scale is in miles, projection and graduation are absent, and so is any information on the inland territory, while coastal place-names are plentiful, written in Gothic letters, black or red probably according to their importance, and are perpendicular to the shoreline, which is drawn in black.

In each chart there is the usual grid of "rhumbs", i.e., wind directions, which radiate from a central rose, and have different colours: black for cardinal winds, green for intermediate winds of 22°30', and red for rhumbs of 11°15'. Unlike Vesconte's atlases, the maps are oriented with the North at the top.

c. 1v: Ireland, southern England, the Netherlands,
Flanders, Northern and western France, northern Spain

Paola Presciuttini , 2002