c1590 Julius Caesar Gallia Vetus Map of Gaul by Ortelius


A beautiful antique c1590 map of ancient Gaul (France) ‘GALLIA VETUS Ad July Caesaris commentaria’, following the description provided in Julius Caesar's ‘Commentaries of his Gallic Wars’ (De Bello Gallico), from the 1593 supplement of Abraham Ortelius' famous Theatrum Orbis Terrarum. His close familiarity with the text is immediately apparent in this scholarly, but also highly decorative map.

Gaul, as per Caesar's description, is divided into three parts, following the tribal divisions of the Belgae, Celtae, and Aquitani. Parts of the neighbouring provinces of Hispania, Provincia Romanorum, Cisalpine Gaul, Germania, and Britannia are also depicted. The map is ornamented in beautiful hand colour, and notable geographic features are shown.

Principal cities and towns are picked out in red, including 'Londinum' in Britannia. The lands of each Celtic tribe are labelled, and extensive boxed lists on the right and left margins record every tribe, chieftain, and notable individual mentioned in Caesar's text. The map is further embellished with a wide decorative border, and three strap-work cartouches, enclosing the title, inscription, and a dedication to the Archbishop of Antwerp and Renaissance humanist, Laevinus Torrentius. There is, on the reverse which is not visible because the map is framed, the latin text confirming the painstaking accuracy of Ortelius' map, stating that no person, place, or region mentioned by Caesar is absent.

Abraham Ortelius (1527 -1598) was a Flemish cartographer, cosmographer, geographer and publisher and a contemporary of Gerard Mercator, with whom he travelled through Italy and France. Although it is Mercator who first used the word "Atlas" as a name for a collection of maps, it is Ortelius who is remembered as the creator of the first modern atlas. ‘Theatrum Orbis Terrarum’ was the first systematically collated set of maps by different map makers in a uniform format.

The map is in very nice condition, with a slightly faded palette of colours and a bit of bruising and small crack to the lower paper where it folded. The picture is mounted, glazed and framed in gilt wood.

Size of Print: 47.5 x 36.5 cm (18 ¾ x 14 3/8 inches)
Size of Frame: 67.5 x 57 x 1.5 cm (26 ½ x 22 ½ x 5/8 inches)
Weight: 3620 g