Riding the wave


Dell'Arcano del Mare by Robert Dudley

The first nautical atlas compiled by an Englishman, with worldwide coverage in Mercator projection, is Dell'Arcano del Mare by Robert Dudley. Although not strictly an English product, having been made in Italy and being written in Italian, it is a milestone and a monumental work, with its six volumes of which two are devoted to mapping the world.

Dudley was the son of the minister Leicester and brother-in-law of the explorer Thomas Cavendish, who put him in touch with the greatest English navigators. At the end of the sixteenth century he sailed to the West Indies and explored Guiana; later he distinguished himself at war on the seas against Spain and was knighted.

Robert Dudley. The northwest coast of America, 1:4.800.000.

After losing the favor of the English Court he was exiled in 1605 and settled in Florence, where his reputation and maritime experience gained him protection at the Medici Court. He was thus able to publish, in 1646-47, his monumental atlas written in Italian, famous for the beauty of the engraving - by Antonio Lucini - and elegant calligraphy. A. Lucini states in his preface that the engraving required twelve years of work and about 5000 pounds of copper.

In the cartouche Carta particolare dello stretto di / Iezo fra l'America l'Isola Iezo / ... / D'America carta XXXIII.
At the bottom to the right it is signed AF Lucini.
The chart, not colored, is undated but belongs to the second edition of the atlas, published in 1661.
(Genoa, Civico Museo Navale)