NWO Visiting Grant "A Forgotten Mutual Heritage: Cosimo III de’ Medici's Collection of Dutch Maps from the Seventeenth Century"

Corbellini, S. & Cattaneo, A.


Project: Research


The project aims at the first complete study and digital edition of 82 mid-seventeenth Dutch manuscript maps acquired by the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo III de’ Medici, from the Dutch cartographer Pieter Blaeu during his tour of the Netherlands (winter 1667-68). Cosimo III’s visit is described in at least two diaries written by court officials accompanying him during his trip. Passages from these diaries highlight Cosimo’s interest for maps and object from the Indie (as the region is described in the sources) and his intense contacts with Blaeu, who offered him the opportunity to buy the maps, mostly designed by Johannes Vingboons and his workshop. The maps depict views of port cities that were crucial nodes in the Dutch commercial roads worldwide. The choice for these maps reveals that Cosimo III, unlike his predecessors, was very
versed and had a very refined taste in cartography. This attitude lead to specific and unconventional choices still reflected in his cartographic collection: instead of planispheres or general views, he privileged maps of specific and very relevant places.
The maps were then taken back to Florence and exhibited in wooden frames in the Villa di Castello, one of the residences of the Medici-family. Since 1920, the maps are kept at the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence) that holds one the most
prestigious collections of manuscripts, books and maps in the world. Its core collections belonged to the Medici family who funded the library in the early sixteenth century.
In spite of the seminal relevance of this corpus of Dutch maps for the cultural history of premodern Europe, it remains virtually unknown outside cartographic circles. There is no accurate description of the material, no complete transcription of Dutch textual elements in cartouches and legends and no translation (English and Italian) for a wider academic and non-academic public. Moreover, the collection as a whole has never been the subject of an academic study and only sporadically scrutinized in connection with early modern collecting practices. The project has started in June 2017 and will be concluded in April 2020. During the first months the research has focused on a first recognition of the material, the search for archival sources and the digitalization of the complete corpus (partnership NIKI, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana with SPACE spa), which will be completed in December 2018. The results of the project will be made public through the organization of an exhibition at the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana and an expert meeting at the NIKI (6-8 November 2019). On that occasion the website Digital Mapping the Carte di Castello will be launched, containing the complete digital reproduction of the maps, their description and translation of textual elements in English and Italian, together with the results of the georeferencing of the depicted places. The exhibition will be accompanied by a printed catalogue. After the exhibition, the results of the expertmeetings will also be published in the NIKI series “Italia e i Paesi Bassi.”
Short titleMutual Heritage
Effective start/end date15/01/201915/05/2019
Related Publications
  1. The Global Eye

    Corbellini, S. & Cattaneo, A., 6-Nov-2019

    Research output: Non-textual formWeb publication/siteProfessional

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Related Activities
  1. A Princely Education.

    Sabrina Corbellini (Keynote/plenary speaker)

    Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conferenceAcademic

  2. Cosimo III ontdekt Deventer

    Sabrina Corbellini (Speaker)

    Activity: Talk or presentationPopular

  3. A Princely Education.

    Sabrina Corbellini (Organiser), Angelo Cattaneo (Organiser)

    Activity: Participating in or organising an eventOrganising an eventAcademic

View all (4) »

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