Riding the wave


Vincenzo Maria Coronelli

Also the Venetian Vincenzo Maria Coronelli (1650-1718) - a friar of the Minorites and since 1701 General of the Congregation - practiced the art of map-making from an early age and built terrestrial globes for the Duke of Parma.

The French Ambassador admired their beauty and invited him in 1681 at the French court, where Coronelli remained a couple of years, to create a celestial globe and a terrestrial one, now kept in Versailles, both over three meters in diameter, whose dimensions have remained unmatched until 1920.

Back in Venice, in 1680 he founded the Academy of the Argonauts, the first geographical society in the world, although directed more to the publication and dissemination of his own works than to proper scientific activity.

He was Cosmographer to the Republic of Venice and produced no less than six hundred charts, some assembled in Atlases, including the Atlante Veneto in 1690-91, and the Isolario of the Atlante Veneto in 1696-97, a late example of a cartographic product in vogue in the previous two centuries, himitating the scheme of the town atlas produced by Braun and Hogenberg.

He also published the first seven volumes of the first alphabetical encyclopedia, which was intended to include forty-five.

A double table, oriented with the north at the top, represents Parte del Golfo di Venetia, olim Mare Adriaticum ("Part of the gulf of Venice, also called Adriatic Sea"), crossed by sailing ships, while an inscription states that it shows the Isole Tremiti, già dette Insulae Diomedae, / Possedute nel Golfo di Venetia da Canonici Regolari Lateranensi / Dedicate / Al Reverendissimo Padre Abbate D. Nicolò Bambaccari, Predicatore Celeberrimo, et Accademico Argonauta. ("Tremiti islands, formerly called Diomedae islands, belonging to the Regular Lateran Canons, dedicated to the Reverend Father Abbot D. Nicolò Bambaccari, very famous preacher and a member of the Academy of the Argonauts").

The islands are taken from a high point of view and combine a plane representation with perspective elements and steep shores, such as would be seen by who sailed close to the coastline. At the bottom of the chart, a view of Parte delle spiaggie della Capitanata del Regno di Napoli ("Part of the shore of the southern Adriatic coast of the Kingdom of Naples").

The Tremiti islands, in the Isolario by Coronelli.
(Genoa, Civico Museo Navale)

(By Paola Presciuttini, 2002)