Guide To Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Huntington Library


HM 217

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MATHEUS DE CHIARA, PORTOLAN ATLAS, forgery s. XIX (?)
World atlas, containing 4 nautical charts: 1. Europe and Mediterranean area 2. Asia from eastern Mediterranean to China 3. Africa and Arabia 4. North and South America Parchment, ff. 8 (4 sheets, folded in center, blank on backs); 237 × 163 mm. (map size, 220 × 307 mm. on double page openings). Bifolia arranged sequentially. Triple ruled borders in black and red ink. Nomenclature in black ink for ports, red ink for countries, and in red overlaid with gold for larger areas in an imitative gothic script; land masses outlined in black ink overtraced with ocher; each chart has one compass rose with symbols for the wind directions, but rhumb lines do not radiate from the compass roses; rhumb lines in black, red and green ink but often the 32 line pattern is incomplete; no latitude or longitude; no scales of distance; first chart has a circular painting in each of the top corners, other charts are decorated with occasional vignettes of ships, mountains, and rivers. Bound, s. XVIII, in Italian vellum wrapper with remains of ties. First chart bears inscription “me fecit fra Matheo de Chiara de arimino anno domine [sic] mdxix,” however the atlas is of questionable authenticity and appears to have been made by the same cartographer as HM 218 (q.v.). It cannot be of the date inscribed since the west coast of North America and entire northwestern section of South America could not have been known until much later. The handwriting appears to be of nineteenth or early twentieth century origin. Parchment seems old; there are worm holes, but none that penetrate from one surface to the next, making it appear that the holes were present before the atlas was assembled; blank back sides are heavily scratched. No owners’ markings. Purchased by Henry E. Huntington in 1925 from Weymer Mills, London, who stated in a letter preserved in Library files that the manuscripts (i.e., HM 217 and HM 218) “have been in the possession of an English family for 500 years.” Bibliography: De Ricci, 65. Wagner, Portolan Atlases, 11-12.
Abbreviations
De Ricci
S. De Ricci, with the assistance of W. H. Wilson, Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada (New York 1935-37; index 1940)
Wagner, Portolan Atlases
H. R. Wagner, “The Portolan Atlases of American Interest in the Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery” in Essays offered to Herbert Putnam, ed. by W. W. Bishop and A. Keogh (New Haven 1929) 498-509; repr. issued separately cited in this catalogue

C. W. Dutschke with the assistance of R. H. Rouse et al., Guide to Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Huntington Library (San Marino, 1989). Copyright 1989.
Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery, San Marino, California.
Electronic version encoded by Sharon K, Goetz, 2003.
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