IN A BORGHESE BINDING WITH THE HIGHLY IMPORTANT MAP OF THE SOUTHWEST
NICOLOSI, GIOVANNI BATTISTA
Hercvles sicvlvs sive stuvdivm Geographicvm Avctore Ionne Baptista Nicolosio... Romae
Folio, six maps on twenty-two sheets (a hemispheric world map on two sheets, and five maps of the continents, each on four sheets.) Period color. Bound in richly gilt armorial binding of full contemporary red morocco, with the Borghese arms in central panel on both covers. Later Borghese bookplate. Minor repairs to binding, plates slightly foxed, otherwise fine.
The second edition of a rare and beautiful atlas in an extraordinary contemporary armorial binding from one of the most famous Roman binders of the period, known as the Rospigliosi bindery. Active from the beginning of the century, the bindery reached its zenith from 1650 to 1675 and numbered among its patrons Gulio Rospiglios (later to become Pope Clement IX), Queen Christina of Sweden, and several members of the Borghese family. This particular binding was executed for Giambattista Borghese (b.1638) who married the daughter of the Duke of Sura in 1658. Their arms, as well as the ornate tooling of the Rospigliosi bindery, decorate the covers of this richly elaborate binding.
The bookplate on the inside front cover is that of Camillo Borghesi (1775-1832). In 1803 he married Pauline the sister of Napoleon Bonaparte. Camillo Borghese was a leading general in the Napoleonic Army, and governor of Piedmont (1807-1814). Camillo Borghesi’s sale of the family collection of antiquities to the French State greatly enriched the new Musee de Louvre.
The map of North America exists in two states. The first appeared in the 1660 edition of the atlas. The revised state in this second (1671) edition is one of the most important 17th century maps for the American Southwest. Wheat calls it “a remarkable map” that “discloses two important elements of progress”. The first is its “careful rendering” of the Rio Grande (“Rio del Norte”) from which it "might appear that this cartographer had at its disposal a fairly accurate Spanish map." Secondly, Wheat cites Nicolosi's second state for it's "use of more actual placenames in New Mexico," which are absent from the first state.
Nicolosi’s map in both states is the earliest printed map upon which the entire course of the Rio Grande is layed down with any degree of accuracy. Since the founding of New Mexico in the sixteenth century, cartographers had shown the upper course of the river in a relatively reasonable manner. But the point of the river's debouchement was not understood, and most maps confused it with the Colorado, and showed it emptying into the Gulf of California.
Wheat overlooks the important point that the first state uses only the old Spanish name, “Rio Escondido”, for the Rio Grande. While preserving the name “Escondido” on the second state for the lower Rio Grande, Nicolosi adds the name “R. del Norte” for the upper course of the river. Early maps and charts usually showed a Rio Escondido flowing into the Gulf of Mexico. It is well known that when La Salle discovered the mouth of the Mississippi, he confused it with the Rio Escondido of earlier maps. But here Nicolosi establishes for the first time that the Rio Escondido of the early maps was the Rio Grande. From Nicolosi's idenification of the Rio Escondido as the Rio Grande, it can easily be seen why La Salle sailed so far west in his search for the Mississippi, and founded his colony at Matagorda Bay, Texas, instead of in present day Louisiana as he intended.
Inventory No. 13472