Riding the wave


The Atlas by Giovan Francesco Monno

A splendid example of Ligurian nautical chart-making, of wider conception than the works outlined in previous pages, is the atlas titled Arte della vera navegatione con il regimento della tramontana et del Sole di Gio Francesco Monno di Monaco Chirurgico Con un Portolano delle coste figurate da tutti li Porti da Stantiar vascelli, co' i luoghi pericolosi di tutto il Mar Mediterraneo. Et Carta Mediterranea con il giusto luogo de Gradi et vera via de venti, by Giovan Francesco Monno, 1633, kept at the University Library in Genoa. Nothing is known of the author, who claims to come from Monaco; beside this atlas, two charts of his are known: one, dated 1613, is in Rome at the Palazzo Doria, and the other of 1622, is in Genoa at Palazzo Durazzo. An earlier version of the atlas in question, dated 1620 and kept at Oxford University, could be its first draft.

The codex collects in a single volume a handbook of astronomy and navigation, and a pilot book of the Mediterranean inclusive of seven charts - two of which describe the European and African coasts on the Atlantic from Denmark to Morocco - brightly colored and illustrated with vignettes. Compared to the nautical atlases previously described, which are undoubtedly intended as an aid to navigation, inclusive of large-scale plans of ports and town views, Monno's atlas is on a very small scale, and seems rather conceived for the bibliophile than for the use of mariners.

Edited by
Paola Presciuttini, 2002