Florentine Interest in Ptolemaic Cartography as Background for Renaissance Painting, Architecture, and the Discovery of America Author(s): Samuel

Y. Edgerton, Jr. Source: Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Vol. 33, No. 4 (Dec., 1974), pp. 275292 Published by: University of California Press on behalf of the Society of Architectural Historians Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/988935 Accessed: 16/11/2010 13:37
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=sah. Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission. JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.

Society of Architectural Historians and University of California Press are collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians.

http://www.jstor.org

Florentine

Interest

in

Ptolemaic

Cartographysa Background for Renaissance Painting, the and Architecture, Discovery of America
SAMUEL Y. EDGERTON, JR. Department of Fine Arts, Boston University
versedover unknown waters. More details should,perhaps,be set forth with greaterclarity, but the diligentreaderwill be able from this to inferthe rest for himself.' A few years later a copy of this letter, together with the chart Toscanelli mentioned (but now lost), came into the hands of Christopher Columbus. Columbus wrote for more information, and Toscanelli responded, encouraging the Genoese's developing interest in a sea route to the East. Although the Portuguese turned him down, Columbus managed to sell his idea to the Spanish, and on 3 August 1492 set sail on his climactic voyage into history, inspired, as much as

EXACTLY hundredyears ago, on 25 June 1474, a Florfive
entine physician named Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli (i3971482) wrote to FernamMartins,Canon of Lisbon and councilor to the King of Portugal. That letter may be one of the most decisive documents in the history of the Western

world:
On anotheroccasion I spoke with you about a shortersea route to the lands of spices than that which you take for Guinea.And now of or [your]Most SereneKingrequests me somestatement, preferably a graphicsketch,wherebythat route might becomeunderstandable and comprehensible,even to men of slight education. Although I know this can be shown in a sphericalform like that of the Earth,I havenevertheless decided,in orderto gain clarityandsavetrouble,to represent[that route] in a mannerthat chartsof navigationdo. Accordingly,I am sendingHis Majestya chartdone with my own hands in which are designatedyour shores and islands from which you shouldbeginto sail everwestward,andthe landsyou shouldtouchat and how you should deviatefrom the pole or from the equatorand afterwhat distance,that is, afterhow manymiles,you should reach the most fertile lands of all spices and gems, and you must not be that I call the regionsin which spicesare found "western," surprised althoughthey are usuallycalled "eastern,"for those who sail in the other hemispherealways find these regions in the west. But if we should go overlandand by the higherrouteswe should come upon theseplacesin the east. The straightlines, therefore, drawnvertically on the chart, indicatedistance from east to west, but those drawn indicatethe spacesfromsouthto north.... Fromthe city horizontally of Lisbonwestwardin a straightline to the verynoble and splendid city of Quinsay[China]26 spacesare indicatedon the chart,eachof
which covers 250 miles .... So there is not a great space to be tra-

by any man, by Toscanelli the Florentine.2 What Toscanelli demonstratedto Martins and hence to Columbus was that once the surfaceof the Earthwas conceptually organized into a rectilinear grid, it took on a new sense of conformity. It was no longer to be thought of as a

heterogeneousassemblageof frighteningunknowns.I would now like to suggestthat Toscanelli'sideaswere as important
to Filippo Brunelleschi and Leon Battista Alberti as they

were to ChristopherColumbus.The ideas that underlaythe new cartographywere also applicableto the art of RenaissanceFlorence.Judgingby painting,sculpture,and architecture, mediaeval "visual space" was usually additive. It was
governed by no single, controlling viewpoint. Contempo-

raneous with Toscanelli's new cartographicthinking,however, there arose in Florence a new concept of "visual space" as continuous and relative to the fixed eye of the

The ideas and materialsin this article were originallyresearchedunder a special summergrant awardedin 1967 by the National Endowmentfor the Humanities.I am gratefulalso to the GraduateSchool of Boston University for nominatingme to this award,and to the staffsof the Laurentian Library, HarvardUniversity,CamFlorence;the Map Room of the LamontLibrary, bridge, Mass.; and the John Carter Brown Library, Brown University, Providence,R.I. I also wish to thank O. Neugebauer, James Ackerman, Creighton Gilbert, and Hunter Dupree for their generous assistance. A chapter similarto this but set in the broader,culturalcontext of fifteenthcentury Florence will appear in my forthcoming book, The Renaissance Rediscoveryof LinearPerspective;1425-1435.

individualobserver.This was to have profound effect upon
i. This remarkable letter,which was the cause of muchcontroversyin the late nineteenthcentury, is now generallyacceptedas genuine. See Samuel Eliot Morison, Journalsand Other Documentson the Life and Voyagesof ChristopherColumbus (New York, 1963), pp. 11-17. 2. GustavoUzielli,La vita e i tempi di Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli(Rome, 1894); Uzielli,Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli,iniziatoredellascopertad'America (Florence,I892); EugenioGarin,"Ritrattodi Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli," in La culturafilosofica del Rinascimentoitaliano (Florence,I96I), pp. 313-334.

z75

ca. Florenceshown in the Map with a Chain (detail).ca. i.lit Pg.Florence(photo: Alinari-Art Reference 9 ~4 Gili Fig. Detail of a frescoin the Loggiadel Bigallo.l` 16 A- W-r A Ar Bureau). CivitasFlorentiae. Woodcut (photo: Alinari-Art ReferenceBureau). 1480. . 1350. Io. z. Fig.

he was also soughtout as an authority on astronomy and geography. che egli imparo la geometria da lui. Brunelleschi's perspective ideas passed on to his friends Masaccio. They depict the same city in which little topographical change had taken place.5 Vasari goes on to say how much Toscanelli admired Otherthan sharingthe generalscientificand technological interestsof Brunelleschiand Alberti.havinglistenedto Toscanelliargueon the arts of mathematics. The first is a detail of a fresco dating about 1350 in the Loggia del Bigallo across from the Baptistery (Fig. and invitedFilippo. il quale. 9. 7. also Edgerton. For instance. 7. 1892]. He apparentlywrote little. che molte volte lo confondeva. 172-195. 40941o) and the mid-sixteenth-century anonymous account in the Codex Magliabechiano (Karl Frey.regardedas the Magna Carta of Renaissanceart. the charming overhangs. xx (1973). Brunelleschi.what specificcontributions might Toscanelli have made to their art? Alessandro Parronchi has already argued that Toscanelli influenced Brunelleschi'sdemonstrations of linear perspective.12Why then such a fundamental change in pictorial attitude? Clearly the advent of linear perspectivehad more than just a taste-makingeffectupon the artistof the Map. i)." Arte Lombarda. Mass. for a man so close to one of the great ideas in history. pp. Jr. pp.4It has also been well documented that he was close to both Brunelleschiand Alberti. I think it is possible to show not only that the advent of linear perspective was important to art. 1964).10 Within the next ten years. 1970]. The Life of Brunelleschi by Antonio di Tuccio Manetti [University Park. Edgerton. 12.9 when. "Brunelleschi's First Perspective Picture. Pa. p." The Art Bulletin.was havingdinnerwith certainof his friends. Piante e vedute di Firenze (Florence. Giorgio de Santillana. 5. prese tal familiarita con seco. The Renaissance Rediscovery of Linear Perspective.how they discussed the Scripturesand "sites from Dante's Divine Comedy. His biographyis not found in the EncyclopediaAmericanaor even the Britannica (although it does appear in the EnciclopediaItaliana). N..Vasarinoted the ties between Toscanelli and Brunelleschiin the 1568 edition of the Vite: at MaestroPaolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli. Samuel Y. See also Giuseppe Bofitto and Attilio Mori. XLVIII (1966). 367-378. one of the Baptisteryof Florence. 42-46. con nuove annotazioni e commenti di Gaetano Milanese (Florence. cornices. xviII (1973).bibliophiles.1 Linear perspective has always been credited with establishing a new standard of "realism" in picture-making.. II. 46-1o6.. Le vite de'piaueccellenti pittori scultori ed architettori .showed such familiaritythat he learnedgeometry from him. io. ed. Studi su la dolce prospettiva (Milan. but its effects upon the seeing process itself have not been sufficiently emphasized. 8. A medicaldoctor.. Renaissance Rediscovery.7 3. The second is a large woodcut after a painting of about 1480 known as the Map with a Chain (Fig. Crisis of the Early Italian Renaissance (Princeton.8It is generally held that Brunelleschi was the first man since classical antiquity to devise a method of linear perspective in This seems to have occurredaround 1425 picture-making. Oddly.Filippo. pp. pp. 333: "Tornando poi da studio maestro Paulo dal Toscanelli. I99-zII. e una 1906). and projecting corners that make the city so attractive to the casual stroller. pp. Only the addition of Brunelleschi's cupola gave the Map reasonto be different. his anecdote reflects a con- tinuing tradition about Toscanelli's close ties with Brunelleschi. "Alberti's Perspective.. The Intercoenales. Samuel Y.While Vasari himself was not a contemporary of these men. "Paolo Toscanelli and His Friends. Nevertheless. the other of the Palazzo Vecchio. also Edgerton. Leonis Biaptistae Alberti opera inedita (Florence. gli rendeva si ragione di tutte le cose con il naturale della pratica esperienza. invito Filippo.6Albertiheld the learnedphysicianin such regardthat he dedicated a book to him. 6z). see Girolamo Mancini. "Humanist Culture and Renaissance Mathematics.Insteadof viewing the city as a heterogeneous collection of interesting details. ed. little is known about Toscanelli. Jr. In a similar context these two "maps" have been published and discussed in Hans Baron. . 2). in an intriguingset of experimentsdescribedby Antonio di Tuccio Manetti. a New Discovery and a New Interpretation. Edgerton.J.and that Toscanelli was an influential friend of nearly all the famous humanists. In 1435/6 Alberti codified Brunelleschi's principlesin his Treatiseon Painting. Giorgio Vasari.who returned that time from his studies. and Donatello. Life of Brunelleschi. e sebbene Filippo non aveva lettere. Filippo did not even have advancededucation but did of everythingso rationallywith the naturalness practicalexperience that he often confoundedToscanelli. It influenced his very psychological perception. uditolo ragionare dell' arti matematiche. pp. 1968)." 6. Brunelleschipainted two panels. Alessandro Parronchi. This is poignantly pointed up in two well-known views of the city of Florence that fall chronologically to either side of Brunelleschi's perspective demonstrations. sera trovandosi in un orto a cena con certi suoi amici.. 12-21. but also important to the way people began to "structure" the physical world in their mind's eye.276 the way painters and architects composed the spaces and masses that gave Renaissance style to their pictures and buildings. 1966). and very few of his works survive. Toscanelli's friendship with Brunelleschi is mentioned in the late fifteenth-century biography of the architect by Antonio di Tuccio Manetti (see Howard Saalman and Catherine Enggass. 33-47.3It has recently been shown that during the fifteenthcentury the mathematicalsciences in Florencereacheda level of considerablecompetence. and other importantscholars. 1890). 4." in his Reflections on Men and Ideas (Cambridge. 122-123. Paul Lawrence Rose.. [Berlin. the artist of the Map saw it from one all-governing viewpoint." Studies in the Renaissance.. Masolino.he was regardedas a man of prodigiouslearning. 1926). ii. and how and measurements" Toscanelli considered Brunelleschia "new Saint Paul" because he was so articulate.

the old optical scientists all agreed that this ray alone among the others brought the clearest visual message. but forces the viewer to lose tactile contact with the individualdetails that so delight all the senseswhen he walks through the city. Ten Doesschate. The crystallinus sits in the anterior part of the eye and. 14.causingtheir power of conveyingvisual information to be weakened. 1964). a sensitive mirror. Fig. . Perspective. 15. in which the viewer may experiencewhat it is like to see.So also was Brunelleschi'sfirstperspectivedemonstration. Pirenne. Fundamentals. all but one of the rays making up the visual cone either enter or leave the eye obliquely. artem. One of the few contemporaneous documents we have concerning Toscanelli is a laudatory verse from a long biographicalpoem. J. fn. x. "The Scientific Basis for Leonardo da Vinci's Theory of Perspective. This makes it possible to grasp instantlythe overall plan of Florence and its relationshipto the surrounding countryside. H.16 Another aspect of mediaevaloptics which had great import for the adventof Renaissancelinearperspectivewas the notion of the centric visual ray. . Iv (1971). vi. it was believed that the crystallinus acted as. "The Information Available in Pictures. Christiancasu- 13. Edgerton. It most often referredto the mediaevalscience of optics. Proposition Twenty-one. per la storia della prospettiva spigolature e appunti (Trieste. 1724). This traditionalbody of knowledge was founded by the ancient Greeks. passed through the crystallinus. and James J. According to this theory. by applying the laws of geometry to the physical and physiological processes of seeing. Renaissance Rediscovery. which collectively made up the cone and which were subject to Euclidian rules. 179. III (i9521953). Holland.It is a touch of irony that linear perspectivein picture making. 169-185. the Map forces the viewer to think of the city from a fixed and far distant position. This mechanicaloperation of the eye accordingto mediaeval optics was furtherjustifiedby the Euclidianproposition concerning similar triangles. Theeyeas conceived mediaeval libros et quiprospective descripsit.. 1957). o -----AKX-S VtSUALIS Apo. This concept was first worked out by the AlexandrianGreekPtolemy. Before converging on this special conduit to the brain. often describedas "scientificallycorrect"by modern physiologists and perceptual psychologists. and walk around the protrudingwalls and corners of buildings. Gibson." Leonardo. Concerning the "scientifically accurate" theory of linear perspective see M. . De illustratione urbis Florentiae. makes perpendicularcontact with the surface of the optic nerve. in Carmina illustrium poetarum italorum (Florence. was originally deduced from a quite erroneousunderstanding how the eye of functions. On its anterior surface a point-for-point image of the seen object was displayed by the converging visual rays. Euclidis opera omnia (Leipzig. is a tractable lens focussing the entering light rays onto the retina. They are thus refracted. Heiberg and H. History (Nieuwkoop.277 Unlike the view in the Loggia. touch. written by Ugolino Verino toward the end of the Quattrocento: Quid Paulummemorem?terramqui norat et astra. Ugolino Verino. meaningthat impulses of sight not only travelmost directlyalong its path but coverthe shortest distanceto the optic nerve and the brain. visual impulses came into the eye in the form of a cone with its apex falling on the optic nerve in the posterior part.15The triangle formed within the eye between the apex of the visual rays at the optic nerve and the height of the small-scaleimage on the crystallinuswould be in exact proportion to the triangle formed between the viewer's standpoint and the height of the actual object beforehis eyes. 1896). In the Middle Ages and the Renaissance however." The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.multos a morte reduxit. See also Decio Gioseffi. eds. by optics(author). the visual rays. Hence it is the shortest. Alberti'sown theory of the "intersection" through the "visual pyramid" is based on these same mediaeval optical and geometric principles.13 What is meant by "books on perspective" (prospective libros)? In the fifteenth century the word "prospectiva"had not yet been acceptedas the term for the artist'sconstructionin painting.Therefore. 347. According to ancient beliefs. 3).3. The unity of the Renaissance view has replacedthe diversityof the mediaevalone. De illustrationeFlorentiae. egregiusmedicus. The image was thus renderedsmall enough on the interceptingcrystallinusto be in turn transmittedto the optic nerve and then to the brain14 (Fig. as we now know. i6. however. The centricray. Controversials. 34.and the surfaceof the objectseen. the surfaceof the crystallinus. L. Menge. Perspectiva artificialis. or what is understood today as the dioptric lens. particularlyEuclid and Ptolemy. G. 35.

." Robert Belle Burke. 65-97. On this point." or treatises on optics. 18. optics.He so chargedhis students that they quickly outran their meager supply of Greek books. reflectand repelfrom them the grace of God.. cose nell' occhio a pp. Alberti seems also to have applied the doctrine of the morally superior centric visual ray to city planning. Studies in Late Medieval and RenaissancePainting in Honor of Millard Meiss (New York. centric point perspective which became the norm in Italianpainting. 4). Studi su la dolce prospettiva.. They hired the gifted Byzantine scholar Manuel Chrysoloras.. but had made no apparent impact upon WesternEurope.22 Brunelleschi's own schooling did not include university training.In Brunelleschi's Sto. This was contained in Ptolemy's Cosmographia. "I lettori di matematichenella universitadi Padovadal principiodel secolo XIV alla fine del di XVI. see Joseph Fischer. pp. 193z).or Geographia. see Antonio Favaro. and astronomyin mediaevalmedical education. Alberti applied the same principle-he called the centric ray the "prince of rays"-in his own definition of frontal. (19zz).IIConvivio. that is. especially at Padua. about 1395. Parronchi. Studies in Roman QuattrocentoArchitecture(Stockholm. e diritte a quella parte. 24zff. I3Iff.." in Irving Lavin and John Plummer. z61-z6z: "E qui si vuole sapere. pp. after a nearly disastrous shipwreck off Naples.1924). Jr. came to WesternEurope. On the role of mathematics. so. in the section on optics: "Sincethe infusion of grace is very clearly illustratedthrough the multiplicationof light.23 zo.. DanteAlighieri. perocche il nervo. Coluccio Salutati the statesman. This is the position of the altar. They returnedabout 1400. Leonardo Bruni the humanist and future chancellor of the commune. This classical world atlas had been known for centuriesto the Arabs and the Byzantine Christians. the place where parallel edges of things receding from sight seem to converge. per le quale corre lo spirito visivo.veramentequellache vieneper rettalineanellapunta della pupilla. (Leipzig. "MensurareTemporalia Facit Geometria Spiritualis. But Toscanelli knew about another science." Memorie e documenti per la storia della universit•a Padova. 21. Claudii Ptolemaei Codex Urbinas Graecus 82. the spiritual message of which Renaissance architects wanted to impress upon the beholder's imagination. . Straight and wide avenues.1958). e per6 veramentel'un occhio l'altro occhio non puo guardare." He observedthat for a personlooking straightahead in a mirror the centric ray defines the level of the reflected "horizon". che siccome quello che mira ricevela formanella pupillaper rettalinea. the year in which it is thought he met Brunelleschi. and Jacopo d'Angiolo da Scarperiathe papal secretary. including Palla Strozzi the banker.which firstcame to Western Europeby way of Florenceabout the year 1400.J."Dante appliedthe notion to the belief that you only know an honest man when he looks you straightin the eye.che avvegnachepi1u un'orapossanevenire.it seems that the kind of "geometry" Vasari reported Brunelleschiand Toscanelli discussed had to do with optics. it is in every way expedient that throughthe corporealmultiplicationof lightthereshouldbe manifested to us the propertiesof gracein the good. Their salvaged library included a wholly unexpected dividend: the Ptolemaicworld atlas.21 He graduated in 1424.cosi perquellamedesimalineala sua forma se ne va in quello cui mira . The EnglishFranciscanRoger Bacon.like orthogonalsin a perspective picture.sicche esso non sia vedute da lui.only the fundamentalsof grammarand arithmetic as taughtin the public abaco. Samuel Y. they have not survived. I. E questo e.wrote in his Opus majus. Moore andToynbee (Oxford.who arein mortalsin. Spirito and S.18 It seems certain that Brunelleschiappliedthe principleof the centric ray to his first realization of the "vanishing point.he averred. Then. Roberto de' Rossi the magnate.278 istry added a moral imprimatur. and the rejectionof it in the wicked.enhancedthe dignityof the upper classes. Such learningwas compatible with the medical education he receivedat the Universityof Padua. a number of leading Florentine intellectuals and businessmen. e nella imaginativasi suggellasolamente.eds. . For in the perfectlygood the infusion of grace is comparedto light incident since they do not reflectfrom them grace nor directlyand perpendicularly. zz.thus insuring that its moral message would be conveyed most directly and without interruptionto the brain. also Edgerton.. which may have been of even more catalytic importance to Brunelleschi's and Alberti's contributionsto the art and architecture of the Renaissance. it is reasonableto ask from whom did he learn about optics? How could he have devised his linear perspective experiments without some knowledge of the science? Circumstantially. which then formed the basis for Brunelleschi'sexperiments in linear perspective. while lower-class artisans and shopkeepers were more suitably located on winding or oblique streets. 1-70.19 These ideas also permeatedchurch architecture. Antonio Corbinelli the merchant.. S. seem to converge toward a centric "vanishing point" on his own eye level. 23. But sinners." 19.but it is probablethat Paolo was versedin the subject.. for instance. see Torgil Magnusson. For the story on how Ptolemy's atlas first .20 If Ugolino Verino is right that Toscanelli himself wrote "perspectivebooks. the viewer facing the apse is conscious that all the horizontal edges of the architectural members. Albertipreferredthat the center of meaning in a picture be congruent with the point where the centric ray strikes the picture surface. II.eds. 238-239.organized a seminar for the study of Greek. Believing that painting should be didactic and inspire only noble thoughts in the minds of the viewers. I 17. do they refractit from the straightcourse which extends along the road of perfectionin life. RenaissanceRediscovery.. Edgerton.1928). forthcomingin 1975). quella veramentesi vede. requiring Chrysoloras and Jacopo d'Angiolo to travel to Constantinoplefor more texts.SomeFifteenthCenturyItalianNotions About Whenand Where the Annunciation Happened.The Opus majusof Roger Bacon (Philadelphia. Lorenzo (Fig. as it seems to have been expressed through Alberti's follower BernardoRossellino. 4 vols.

This translation was interrupted and then resumed about I405 by Jacopo d'Angiolo and finished perhaps in the next year. I. Manitius and 0. . Neugebauer.? 'I ' i: I~ .i i" 1 ~1IiS~! .1963).26 These men were not artists but scions of important Florentine families. i L?1~~r . "Die handschriftlichen Entwicklungim Zeitalter der Renaissance. principles he had applied to the heavens in his Almagest. . tr~PI~Ir~ d ?. but they most certainly knew of his Almagest. which are now in the Vatican and Laurentian libraries. When Jacopo d'Angiolo and Chrysoloras first discovered Ptolemy's atlas among the wares of the Byzantine booksellers. A casual thumbing through the pages of the Geographia would have revealed that Ptolemy had applied to the study of the Earth's surface the same mathematical und ihre Ptolemaiuskarten z4. which indicates that the members of the Greek seminar recognized its universal importance. Fig. !li i.z vols.. the standard treatise on astronomy during the Middle Ages.25 Chrysoloras began to translate Ptolemy's work into Latin almost immediately after his return. 379-404.. They may or may not have known about Ptolemy's optics. Handbuch der Astronomie. (I913).. . ii.aggg ii I: iI ii r~ P: ~~p~dl~aleed ~e"l II f~ bd~d L9ril .tl j'? r ?:: i. :-~~:g~?-ii ib~i S. Interior(photo: Alinari-Art Reference This Greek edition of the Geographia is not extant. Domenico was subsequently to occupy several high posts in government. when two distinguished young Florentine gentlemen named Francesco di Lapacino and Domenico di Lionardo Boninsegni undertook the task.aPP?. Lorenzo. I: i-. Paul Duise-Kiel. and highly influential z5. Brunelleschi. . z6.1 ?."Zentralblatt Bibliotheksfuir xxx wesen. they were not exactly ignorant of its usefulness beyond a mere language text. Annotated Latin copies of the colored maps were not added however until the following decade. Bureau).Florence. :?i 1~II :i F 1.i ~a~r ts~t ~ i $. K. I stress this because it shows the impact which Ptolemy's atlas made upon the wealthy.. 4.24 Ptolemy's treatise consisted of eight books illustrated by twenty-seven maps including a two-page mappamundi. .-- xie ~-ht~~~~:?~.~-a-' ~a~%bPL$if~b 'Sa*ljea~iillsl~fB~Bi ~~~&g~Bl~yLI ---?-Is~8isi~. intellectual. (Leipzig. 191.-. : .. written and illuminated in the fourteenth century. Ptolemdus.'' iii I: r.1 ??: i url~a%~c~~(l~4~rf~arsl. Claudii Ptolemaei . 1440. but very likely it was similar to several handsome versions.att?surlr~~ :~.ca. eds. Fischer.

Pierre d'Ailly's Ymago mundiand the commentarieseventuallyfound their 30. The Story of Maps (Boston.. PetrusVesconte.. Vespasiano da Bisticci. laymenwho now set the culturaltone in the city. This system allowed for easy corrections. 29. incidentally. Rogers. k --V-ilv?"11111. Merchants and Scholars (Minneapolis.The Chapel of the Cardinal of Portugal.ca. Incidentally.see Vespasiano da Bisticci..tb !?L9d h' 44 -. mentioned the Geographia in four separate each time to the maps biographiesand. improved maps of Northern Europe began to be added.27 Furthermore.Toscanelli was one of Cardinal Not James's personalphysiciansat the time of his death. it was not so muchPtolemy'sknowledgeof geographyproper that was so captivating. and ClarenceKennedy.~.." Florence was becoming a center of cartographic study as well as a scriptorium. and Constance duringthe second The French cardinal Guildecade of the Quattrocento.The PortugueseunderHenry the Navigator began to beat a path to the city.Portolanchart. iltbr t? rfit 2-trfn ~A ~i. pp."9 Dom Pedro'sown son became the Cardiof 27. pp. Paolo d'Ancona and Erhard Oeschlimann (Milan.30 only Florentinemaps but Florentinegold soon stimulated the Portugueseto make theirspectacularexpeditionsdown the Africancoast. p. FrancisM. 1.tott .?f oft lilt olt . when he heard about the new Ptolemaic atlas while attending the council.now buriedin Florentinesplendorat San Miniato.PallaStrozzi. 31.. This first "correction"was made by a Danish cartographernamed ClaudiusClavus.32 friendCardiHis nal Pierred'Ailly was himselfa learnedgeographerand had already composed a long compendiumon the subject.z8o x IN/ ??~c.As we shall see. Gino Corti. 1950). Fischer. 32. I -32. 1965). 1434-1459 (Philadelphia. 1964). ed. the Ymago mundi.Boninsegni.i-5 i~/ Fig. Thomas Goldstein.antagonistof John Hus. .and Alessandrode' Bardi. 1964). 1961). 29 and passim.31 laume Filastre. I5zff. 5. perhaps also to purchasemaps. Rome.writingmanyyearslaterabout his genteelbibliophile friends.Le vite di uomini illustridel secolo XV.a scriptoriumfor the reproduction of these Ptolemaicatlases seems to have been set up in Florenceto supply a steadilyrisingdemand. Claudii Ptolemaei.~1.-ecJR*. Knowledgeof Ptolemy'satlas also permeated the august ecclesiasticalcouncils on schismand heresy going on in Pisa. was sufficientlyinterestedto purchasea copy from Florencein 1417 and another with updatedmaps ten yearslater. 1320 (photo: VaticanLibrary). FifteenthCenturyGeographyAgainst the Background of MedievalScience (Salem. Around 1412. z8. (Cambridge. also his "Geographyin 15th Century Florence.~lv '"? .but his system for mappingthe surfaceof the Earth. nal Jamesof Portugal. see Lloyd Brown.Mass. he wrote two commentaries on the Geographia. eds.ofthe InfantaDom Pedroof Portugal Mass.referred as pitture. Ptolemy'sGeographiais mentionedinthebiographies Francescodi Lapacino.and alreadyby 1424. FrederickHartt. i961). Henry's brother Dom Pedro was there in 1428. 191. The Travels." in John Parker.

1942).was the most important centerin Europefor the study and productionof the revolutionary new Ptolemaic system of geography and mapmaking. nari-Art Reference E way to the library of ChristopherColumbus.33 Should anyone have doubts about the prestige of these Ptolemaic atlases in Florentine intellectual life.This was the harbor-finding "portolan" or sea chart. 1305. : ArenaChapel. an industrythat broughttogether scientists. Naz. Admiralof the Ocean Sea. as if it had not alreadycontributedenough to the Renaissance. 6. SamuelEliot Morison. Before examiningthe Ptolemaicsystemwe should take a brief look at another method of mapmaking in practice since the thirteenthcentury. let him inspect the magnificent Latin copies in the Laurentian Library.ili i!' r.1920]..technicalknow-how of Brunelleschi. I. The decorations around the chartswere done by Gherardoand Monte di Giovannida Firenze. i! ~::~:::- J. The title page states that the maps were drawn by Henricus Martellus Germanus. Lat. Bibl. it is generally acknowledged that his greatestaccomplishmentwas in being the most outstanding authorityon Ptolemaic cartography.. In spite of what little is known about the life of Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli.~ :::i i. ca. .the earliestexample of which may have been produced in Tuscany (the "carta Pisana.16. where they made his principal "bed-time reading. artists. tion of a whole industry fostered in Florence during the Quattrocento. and patrons." as Samuel Eliot Morison has written.1IZI-IZ5. xIII. z vols. Giotto.As we shall see. they had been interpretedto him by someone with the theoretical knowledge of Toscanelli.34 The huge Vitelli atlas represents the culmina- 33. The city. ~ B~a- ~rrrpCleo ~k~SB" -~i~iBL~ Ili~W~** 66"8 U~? ilGI~V~-~ e~r~ps ~WIIIPaa~~l: ~~e~u~ :i- i-ni: n i_ i 1 Ir B I Fig. and most particularly the great edition prepared for the condottiere Camillo Maria Vitelli now lying in relative neglect in the National Library in Florence.z81 t~l " aB b?. there were certain remarkableaspects of the Ptolemaic system which would have been of great interest to someone with if the artistic." now in the Biblio- . xIII.Padua(photo:AliBureau).525-526) as paintersand miniaturists in Florenceworking in the mannerof Domenico Ghirlandaio.especiallyin the seafaringMediterraneanregion. This work of the late fifteenth century was not only updated with the latest geographic information but was lavishly decorated with gold leaf and brightly colored miniatures in the style of Ghirlandaio. (Boston. Expulsion of Joachim from the Temple. 34. Cl.probably the same Gherardo del Fiora (1444/5-1497) who with his brother Monte Lexikon (1448-?) is listed by UlrichThieme and Felix Becker(Allgemeines der bildendenKuinstler [Leipzig.

and sometimes the chartmakeradded little flags to denote the arms of ruling princes. but usually portolan charts were not so effective in giving accurate distances as they were in showing precise directions. Ptolemy offered three separate mapping solutions because he knew there must always be some distortion no matter how his sphericalsurface was unfolded on a plane. Taylor. The firsttwo were attemptsat preservingthe sphericalcharacter by having meridiansconverge. 4 vols. set his own course accordingly. see E. At this point we might compare our portolan chart by Petrus Vesconte to a nearly contemporaneouspainting by Giotto. The Ptolemaicsystem of mapmaking.In other words 35. was based on quite another psychological.35 like Whena portolan chartmaker Petrussat down to draw he first laid in a stretch of shoreline he had such a map. (Vatican City. it extended southward only slightly below the equator." Klotho. thus the oikumene ap(Fig. 1944).and as late as 1700 were still the best means for plotting sailing voyages across the Atlantic Ocean. Later. Paris. Giotto's painting. Sometimesthese portolan charts showed a scale of miles or a superimposed grid for reckoning distance. he traced it to its direction point on the compass rose. Iz75). R."This is incorrect. 281-296) asserted et 37. Ptolemy's three methods showed how to projectthe coordinatesof any geographical location and how to compensate for the distortion of the spherical surface when stretchedout on a twodimensionalplane. Certainly by the early Trecento portolan charts were in generaluse by Italianseamen for negotiating the Mediterranean. although Ptolemy's longitude-latitudesystem was equally extendable around the whole of the globe. whom art historians might consider the "Giotto" of cartography. G.on the other hand. but in mediaevalEurope no one had yet presenteda satisfactoryway to projecta reticulated spherical surface onto a flat chart. 13-16. pears in the shape of a curved trapezoid36 Neither of these methods was a projectionfrom the eye. When the ship's navigatorput the portolan chart to use. ca. pp. Roberto Almagia. either sketchedhimself or learnedabout from other sailors. that is. The use and purpose of the portolan chart was still based on the same mediaeval perceptualand psychological attitudes of seeing. A full explanationof these firsttwo mappingmethodsis given in Hans V. Planisferi carte nautiche e affini dal secolo XIV al XVII esistenti nella Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana. LI [I958]. 7). 109-III. he superimposedon top of his coastal contour a compass rose. Miik and FriedrichHopfner. took a rule. he opened it upon a table. 6). in empiricalcombination with touching and moving around. always carefullyset inside the coastal boundary so as not to obscure the important configurationof the shore as seen from the ship. There are no clues about the distance between painted objects or the depth of foreshortenedsurfaces. like a portolan chart." Gazette de Beaux-arts. de la 'boite d'optique'.Ptolemy described two methods for mapping the Earth in the form of conic sections. Almost the same limitations as well as advantagescharacterof istic of the portolan chart are also characteristic Giotto's In Giotto's art one always has a clear idea of painting. The world that Ptolemy would map. What a sailor could instantlydeterminefrom a portolan chartwas the direction of his destination and the sequence of landmarks to be passed along the way. probably the modern Canaries-the "Greenwich"of Ptolemy'slongitudinalreckoning-and stretched eastward through China. in Book Seven. He then added place names. which also inspiredGiotto's painting.All three methodshave in common the aim of mappingon a flat plane the curvinglongitudes and latitudesof the globe. a scene from the Arena Chapel of 1306 (Fig. he describeda third method which is very like Renaissancelinear perspective. For further on how portolan charts were used.z8z thique Nationale. We need not concern ourselves with the history and mathematicalcalculation of this longitude-latitudesystem. perceptualattitude.and sailed away. J. But the rhumbline system per se did not provide him ready information concerning distances between landmarks. Each of the four cardinal compass points he labelled with the traditional names of the four winds. Lemoine("Brunelleschi les originesgeographiques that Ptolemy'ssecond methodwas similarto linearperspectiveand included a diagramshowingthe convergencepoint of the meridiansas an "eye. was only the oikumeneor that part known to men of ancienttimes. The Haven Finding Art (New York."which ran parallel to his proposed course. He then took a pair of dividers to find the nearest compass rose line. however. gives information about direction but not distance.The author has misunderstoodPtolemy'scartographicprojection and gives a misleadingcase for Brunelleschi's applicationof it. and laid it down upon the map between his own port and his eventual destination. Ever since ancient times certain scientists had conceived of the world as abstractlydivided into evenly spaced meridians (longitudes) converging at the poles and intersectedby parallels (latitudes) crossing at right angles. 1957). While it showed Scandinavia and Russia. . It began with the Fortunate Islands. Differentcolored inks were employed in order to distinguish the best harbors. G. Ptolmeme. which objects are in front of others and which directionthe eye should follow to reach the fictive depths of the picture. called a "rhumb. containing sixteen points interconnectedby fans of radiating lines. I. Finally and most importantly. Figure 5 shows a Genoese portolan chart of about 1311 by one PetrusVesconte. which he realizedwas much largerthan the oikumene. "Das KlaudiosPtolemaiosEinfiihrungin die darstellende Erdkunde. The rest of the world was terra incognita. In Book One of the Geographia. v (1938). When the properrhumbwas found.37 36.

'" '"p" t:.' vL j ?r s.Syenewas selectedbecauseat that place the sun can light up a well at high noon at the summersolstice.r ~?. For a mathematicianlike Ptolemyit was importantthat his halfway latitudehave astronomicalsignificance..~ rri i. 1? . However. 7. 8 is an adaptationfrom Ptolemy'stext basedon the reconstruction in Miik and Hopfner.i- . .-d .R? ir r v t " \?~: .???~i ..e ..z83 B ??? ~~ : *? Cr \f Z~ ?.while the other meridians would appear bending concavely as they conThe Ptolemaicatlases are not illustratedat this point (Book ii. ~ 1 " ~74 r o-: `??'~~ 1-~t~3 i . i~Cc' U i "O: i "r ?:." f'~ ~rri. M..i le s~ z b:"c? ::?~-.K:?ZI~* 1~Y I t?1~5~C ~ S ?..?.38 directhis visual axis toward the internalcenterof the sphere in such a way that the axis would pass throughthe external surface of the globe at just that point where the parallel throughSyenecrosses the meridiandirectlyin the middleof the viewer'svisual field (Fig. 1405. t + ~i~71b h . u 71~ . i J ""~~ CI~t %i ~~ .c'-??. 98v-99r).i Y!? 7 Y I$ f-:.. i g i ..b. This line."p. How Ptolemywanted the globe to be seen priorto mapping by his first and second methods. ~""r~il~ :&?. ~~~pt~?il cC ^`2i \~?I -~" ?. markedthe exact centerbetweenthe northernand The viewer was then to southernhalves of the oikumene. ~ u. t* ?. Ptolemy..'Eli"e~i:) ?r. I~ 1?. i. "Das Klaudios Ptolemaios Einfiihrung. i f-. Oikumene. . w ~( -s . should have a firm optical impressionof how the oikumene would look if it were the base of the visual cone with his The axis visualiscertifyingthe precisegeographicalcenter. ?i. " 3 -'5 t? ?= -:i i i * .o~.h-gp-:~i iip: a "if :. Chap. :"?-? -* ?ur-.i I "~ I . the second. ?c. :i-n -r 3 8 :liCIIIF~~Z~F~7~Le~ "' :I. 24). . My Fig. Hatched area is the oikumene (author). 70. Florence. ca.ik t 1 I Fig. ?t~?-.did take the eyepoint into considerationby what amountsto an applicationof one of his optical theories. 28. fols.? ?:*.8). viewer was to observe the centermostmeridianin such an image of the oikumene as a perfectvertical. before he does any mapping at all..-? a ?r~? i: z :i "" r ii. and Hopfner. . 8. double-page map from a Greek edition of the Geographia. ? 4' r?i r1\ : ?'? ik I~e C.39 38.i. Ih?~~ 3 ~-~~ x?? i rL: . just twenty-four degrees north of the equator. .? r b. ~s :::::~ ?:313~r.Ptolemyaskedhis readerto hold a globe motionless before his eyes and locate the particular parallelmarkedon it which passed throughSyene (modern Aswan). In other words. . F "s.' ~san~~~ :s 5 r~.?. 8"~:~: :i t r. Plut. 2: \6t `Y.. 39. which Ptolemyhimselfpreferred.49. the sun stands near the zenith thereaboutz21June everyyear. Just before introducingthis second method.~ c--??r? ~L. ~1 :r i sn a C ??:~? r"L II ~CUsc-r r~: liir_ Fig.~-~?II i: k~_ ..i r.2 i i fl . owned by Antonio Corbinelli (Laurentian Library.~ i i-- i. In otherwords Ptolemywas saying that the viewer.

however.io. This third system is in fact the direct ancestor of Renaissance linear perspective. Handbuch der Astronomie. His optical directions served here merely to give the mapmakera clearerpicture of the oikumene in his mind's eye before submittingit to the charting scheme. The details derive from optics. 41. the largerthe outer "sphere"of the heavens.41Ptolemy sounds there like some Alexandrian Alberti..ago < Ap the wanted globeto be seenpriorto his third Fig."Ptolemy'sGeography. Neugebauer.as if he felt therewas still anotheralternative to representingthe globe not covered earlier. with the visual axis lying in the plane of the latitude through Syene.Book vii. 43. seems to imply that it was well known. First he would draw two concentric circles. The earliest Ptolemaicatlas that I have seen in which there is an attempt to reconstructthe third method is the Marco Beneventanoedition.43Figure io is a diagram which explains how Ptolemy worked out his perspective picture." Isis. dm -.284 verged on either side.. See O. 8 - .This time he presented a method much closer to an artist's approximation. Again.42 Professor Neugebauer has recently published a reconstruction of Ptolemy's linear perspective map projection without acknowledging its importance to the history of art. the actual mapping according to Ptolemy's second method did not follow from this point of sight but by another mathematicalmethod for preservingas much as possible the true distances between the northern latitudes. Chap. 2: - S: . 1507. almost apologetically. Chapters6 and 7. Furthermore. 3). in ancient times. _ third (author).The mannerin which Ptolemy described his own perspectiveprocedure. The method in fact was apparently so difficult that no understoodit.. and geographyshould want to visualize the world like a perspectivepicture. L (I959). he markedon the great circle of the heavens where the northern and southern solstitial rings crossed (ZH and BA)."Ptolemy'sGeography.. zz-z9. Ptolemy went on to discuss more topographicalquestions. Ptolemy's method ticians. the Geographia was hardly intended to and serveartists. However. But Ptolemy was one Greek mathematician who had a consistent interest in the arts." .the original diagram which accompaniedthe text in Book Seven is lost. but he was not finishedwith the problem of projection. Manitius and Neugebauer.. Ptolemaus. He raised it again in Book Seven. What Ptolemy now proceeded to explain is probablythe first recordedinstance in which any scientist or artist gave instructions about making a picture based on a projection from a single point representingthe eye of an individual. Rome. 72 (Book viii. and the perspectiveexplanation is couched in the most abstruse terminology. Nevmediaevalor Renaissancecartographer was this third method employedfor the er to my knowledge making of Ptolemaic maps. II. the geometry of conic sections. Nonetheless. so the latitudinal rings around the earth would be parallel ratherthan at angles with the visual axis. HowPtolemy method (author). at least among mathematicians. that is.40 He intendedthe whole three-dimensional"Earth"to be positioned frontally before the eyes in the conventional mannerof looking at a picture (Fig.9. Afterdetailinghis firsttwo methodsin the second book of his Geographia. 9). an all-aroundgenius.Then following astronomicalpractice. IHP representsthe meridian on the 42.It was written for cartographers mathema40. Neugebauer. he asked his reader to position his eyes at a specific location vis-d-vis the globe. perspective usinglinear Fig. and the cartographictheory of his own day.and in the Almagestthere is a charmingpassage in which the author writes with almost craftsmanlike sensitivity about constructing and painting a model of the celestial globe. In the subsequentGreekand Latincopies of the fourteenthand fifteenth centuries there is no explanatory diagram at all. There are several passagesin his Optics where he makes referenceto painting and sculpture. the smaller representingthe Earth. and it is not surprizing that he of all the classicalphilosophersinvolvedin problems of optics. astronomy.

BA. Next. In other words.to notewhether formthewholeor partof thepicture. while the southern ring. Laurentian Library. and his perspectivalthird projection made even more explicit. Ptolemy'sperspective did not depend. They are basedon EdwardLutherStevenson'sEnglishtranslation(afterthe Latin)of Ptolemy's Geographia (New York. 24. Florence.in ordernot to give the impressionof a break. in an egg-shapedform and not ending sharply wherethey meet the outermostcircle."p. Neugebauer. 48." p. the figureappearsto widen before the majoraxis insteadof being at its widest at justthose pointswhere the major axis touches the ends of the ellipse. Also. iz here).In the first paragraph." 47. nor were these figures projectedto a single centric vanishingpoint. See Miik and Hopfner. this also appearsto happenwith the real [rings]. Ptolemy makes a cogent analogy between geography and painting as he attempts to separate his subjectfrom chorography-his word for the decoration of maps with topographicaldetails: The end of chorography to deal separately a partof the is with The whole.one has to watch that each goes throughthe said four points.49. . The theoreticalobserverstands with his visual axis extendingto Z.also marks the place where the observer'svisual axis contacts the surfaceof the globe. was ever projected by Ptolemy'sfirstor second cartographicmethod. p. a charter memberof the FlorentineGreekacademy.He thus 1H established eight points around which he could construct two perspectiveellipses. The northern solstitial ring appears as an ellipse.49 they After detailinghis longitude-latitudesystem and explaining his first two cartographicmethods. it will be remembered. Edgerton. correspondingto the true position on the rings and on the earth. ZH." 61. as did Brunelleschi'sRenaissanceconstruction. But Ptolemy's text did explain. he devised a linear perspective construction from a "distance point. contain ideas that seem relevant to Florentineartistic thought in the early fifteenthcentury. Miik and Hopfner.48 44. In perspective. All the other maps were strictlyrectilineargrids on which were shown the separate regions of the oikumene. fol. fn. only the first. The cited quotation is from Book I. Chap. Ptolemy extended a line from this point of sight at to Qt. 3. a vanishing point is implicitat 2. in his famous drawingof a chalice now in the Uffizi(Fig. distance Q2.the majoraxis of the ellipse does not divide it exactly in half.the "leading half" of a circle appears illusionisticallyto be fatter than the receding part.The differenceis that in linearperspective. but it should be given a consistent directioneven if the convexities which end the ellipse fall outside the circle which encompassesthe figure."DasKlaudiosPtolemaiosEinfuihrung. 51V 5i. the whole must express the sum of all its parts. That is by the method describedby Alberti in which an ellipse is inscribed in a foreshortenedsquareprojectedto a centricvanishingpoint. Toscanelli.From Q2 then drew lines to B and Z. did not apply linearperspectiverules. 24. inanentire For we first painting must putinthelarger features afterwards and thosedetailed features whichportraits and in to pictures may require. The circle through Syene thereforeappearsas a straight line since its plane is exactly on level with the observer'sown eyes. as Ptolemy noted.51 the twentyOf seven charts in this and similar editions.285 Earth which runs through the poles. Ptolemy's text on this readsas follows: "At the designof the rings. It is amazinghow manypassagesof the Geographia.especially in Book One. theyareintein to how in to grated regard oneanother. p.50 Ptolemy's classical geographythus confirmsthe basic tenet of classical art.45 Ptolemy went on to describe how the ends of the ellipses should be drawn as rounded. "Das Klaudios Ptolemaios Einfuihrung. 1932).44Nonetheless." 2. 50. and one could constructexactly the same result by projectingthe ellipses from that center. on the centric vanishing point. seen from below. Ptolemy continues: We areabletherefore knowtheexactposition anyparticular to of of how place. is seen from above.46 This is interesting. The quotation is from Book I. more like American-stylefootballs than true perspective ellipses.Alberti. i. situated regard thewhole inhabited world. 28. "Brunelleschi'sFirst Perspective Picture".The individualcircularturnsof the chalicewere not drawn as perspectivebut as true geometricellipses. Neugebauer. What impetus these words must have given to men like Brunelleschi.because as anyone knows who has looked at picturesfrom late antiquity. The figuresPtolemy describedare linear perspectiveellipses rather than true geometricfigures. and Columbus! Figure ii shows one of the maps from a fourteenth-century Greek Ptolemaic atlas which may have been a copy purchased by the influentialAntonio Corbinelli. Ptolemy's world still centered on the European-North African-West Asian land mass. Chap.asif onewereto paint theeyeorearbyitself. Plut.47 The Alexandrian geographer also suggested that brightercolors be used to define those parts of the depictedspherenearestthe viewerwhile faintercolors be used for parts furtheraway. This point. On this meridian he next markedthe point 2 where the parallel through Syene crossed. that the oikumene occu- 45. the mappamundishowing the whole oikumene. Renaissance Rediscovery. onewould theentire head. and that of [apparently] intersecting partsthose which are more distant from the eye be interruptedby the nearerones. and A to wherethey touched the centralmeridian. away. givingthemproportion relation one another thattheir so correct distance can apart beseenbyexamining them. Ptolemy'stext continues: "One must also take care that the circles are not merely [representedby simple] lines but with an appropriatewidth and in differentcolors and also that the arcsacross the earth [be given] in a faintercolor than those nearthe eye. 19. circularobjects were then often drawn as ovals with pointed ends."Ptolemy'sGeography. 49. taskof only is the as geography to survey wholeinitsjustproportion.andtheposition thevarious countries. Not until the sixteenth century did maps include broader reaches of the surrounding oceans. This and the other passagesquoted in my text are reasonablycorrect renditionsof the originalGreekand most subsequentLatincopies. "Ptolemy'sGeography. It is interestingthat Paolo Uccello. 46. and through he 2." 13.

single-page map from the Geographia (Laurentian Library. 51v). and in this sense helped shape the . kO~no ELfL 'C (O f1OII r? Al H if Fig. "Das KlaudiosPtolemaios Einfiihrung. cVve. Chap. 28. From the moment the Ptolemaic atlas appeared in Florence. LIV (1948).His contributionwas not to this kind of topographical knowledge. V. Mzik and Hopfner.49. the gauntlet was down. waiting for some would-be Columbus to pick it up. zo.If one could determine longitudes eastward from the FortunateIslands. also O. however. 0% At.t rwm Kc 0cy r r cr~?-Zj"I1?n~n ~ 0 ~ Cl~r f?' 01?J~o~r ~ ~ oI-? j d' A IF. Neugebauer. CI 1* r.determinethem westward as far This is clear from another of Ptolemy's stateas Cathay. Plut.John Kirkland Latitudesin the Middle Ages. fol. "Notes on the Knowledgeof Longitudesand 52z.the new grid technique of mapping was of greater importanceto landlubbing intellectuals."Bulletinof the American MathematicalSociety. even though Ptolemy had made a reasonably good estimate of the circumference of the globe.is T ui '>p 60M 6044 SI/4-4 >iY~WI *'(' -i . Ptolemy. Florence. 1013-1014.52 ments: of Fromthe ratioof anygivenarcto the total circumference the great circle."p. Instead.YI46Y l_. xY1 AO [Al~~p a" A& p. Parti.53 Of course this was much easier said than done. the actual geography of Ptolemy's book left much to be desired. To be sure. ''Zr." Isis. pied only a part of the whole sphere. 53. v (19zz).one could also. but to the science of measurement. 75-98. "Mathematical Methods in AncientAstronomy. at least theoretically.t A v I~er"al Ic Mt0 IQ~JU60I~6 7$L I~ '"04W aw - . 3. II. delineatedlands on the mappamundi. the number of stadia [between places on the Earth] can be calculated from the known number of stadia in the circuit of the whole Earth. as is obvious from the shape and location of the Wright. Ptolemaicmapswere not intendedoriginallyfor the use of seafarers and did not until late in the eighteenth century supplant the portolan sailing charts. The cited text is from Book I.

and mentions that a longitudinalline was to be established as a boundarybetween the two states. twisted. The didactic purpose of Brunelleschi'schurch. xxv (i962). zo: "E cosi l'occhio e regolo e sesta dei paesi lontani. Florence.54 Indeed. e delle longitudini e linee incorporee. This same concept also pervades Brunelleschi's architecture.. See. withtheaidof thearithmetic weseethat geometric art. The Ptolemaicgrid was not new to WesternEurope. J."MedievalLandSurveying TopographicalMaps. Arnold Rosin (New York.Whateverthe configuration of a grid-divided surface.. erotic map of Pavia (ca.how they developa sense of a priori."Journalof the Warburg to and Courtauld Institutes. and the geometric grid was its earthly metaphor. cxxi (1955). 141-146. Linear perspective therefore provided a pictorial matrix symbolic of a world in which everythinghas its ordained place and man himselfis in harmonywith God's masterplan of the universe. Leon Battista Alberti: Universal Man of the Early Renaissance (Chicago. It seems clear that therecould have beenno appreciationor applicationof linear perspectivein picturesand no appreciationor application of Brunelleschi's modular system of architecture without the kind of space structurationPtolemy'satlas now encouragedin the Renaissancemind. curved. Salomon. I-io. Cavalcanti described a territorialdispute between his home city and Milan duringthe wars of the 1420s. at least theoretically. ix. Above all. ca. the Ptolemaic system gave Western Europeans the power to catalogue. Piaget's short work on Psychology and Epistemology. 55. The modern Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget has discussed what he calls the "space structuration"process in little children. The most far-flung places could. The portolan sailing chart. 1838). as well as their directionsfrom one another. in the National Library.It had already been applied to land measure by surveyors. also Richard Krautheimer 56. Lorenzo (Fig. is with . Iz275.J. "Aftermath Opicinusde Canistris.. the grid must have somethingto do with the primal structuringpower of the human brain itself. or peeled from a sphere. cartographers. Alberti'sperspectiverules. pp. and Joan Gadol. I. did not furnish a uniform framework for perceivingthe Earth as a whole. zz. 1336-1337):Richard G. it seemedto indicatethat the Earth was subject to the same principles of harmony and proportion that people expected of the moral and social order.55No matter how a gridded surface is shrunk.the so-called CartaPisana. The fact that it reappearedin the guise of an ancientGreekmanuscript. Also the famous psychotic cartographer Opicinus de Canistris applieda grid to his weird.modular square which represents the true unit of measurement for judging the whole.In S. the observer is able to comprehendall of its continuity as long as he can relate to the side of at least one undistorted.N.were intended not to provide merely "realism"but rathera rational stage setting for the noble subject of the picture. and 54. or istoria. zoff." and Trude Krautheimer-Hess. enlarged.4).be fixed preciselyin relation to one another by absolute coordinates so that their proportionate distances apart. 237. Parallelsbetween Ptolemy'sgeographyand Renaissanceideas about architecturehave already been suggested by Dagobert Frey. In truth.. was to show man how to live in harmony with God." . became instantly apparent. The Ptolemaic grid on the other hand gave instant geometric continuity. the grid was not new to WesternEuropeans.. it gives the module for the entire architectural conception. 57. pp. is longitudes abstract under Everythingcomprehended the and doctrine. trans.the purpose of painting was to teach moral lessons. Rather. Istoria Fiorentine (printed edition.that it arrivedat a time when mathematics generallywere being appreciatedwith a new moral as well as practicalfervor. This may be the first instance where an imaginarygeometric line rather than a physicallandmarkwas to be recognizedas a territoriallimit to a political power: Andthustheeyeis theruler compass distant and of and regions of and lines. 70-74. e con l'ajuto dell'aritmeticaarte noi veggiamo che ci e una regola a misurare. the griddedfloor is no mere decoration. 1969).56 That Florentines were beginning to think according to the Ptolemaicsystem is evident in the mid-fifteenth-century writingsof Giovanni Cavalcanti.just when Greek studies were obsessively fascinatingto Florentine intellectuals. LorenzoGhiberti(Princeton.shows a simplegrid deviceover the compass rose. but it reappearedat a particularlyopportunemoment when the intellectualclimate of Florencewas ideallypreparedto take advantage of it in new and creative ways. fn. and correct geographicknowledge.even when the grid squares themselveshave become distorted. while useful for direction finding at sea. warped. SeeD. Ogni cosa si comprendesotto la dottrina geometrica. there a ruleformeasuring theeye.. p.Paris.. served to give impetusto Ptolemy'sgrid as no similarnotion had ever enjoyed before. 1956). The Geographical Journal. The oldest survivingportolan chart. Giovanni Cavalcanti. horizontal and vertical coordination in their surrounding space. Brunelleschi'sgreat achievementin architectureand Alberti's in the theory of painting were that they understood this relationship and could apply the grid metaphorically and aestheticallyin their art.In his IstoriaFiorentinaof about 1440. involving a projectedcheckerboard pavimento.abstract.287 Renaissanceattitudeabout man and his world.At just the time when much new information was becoming available about the outside world.. For Alberti.. Price.. Mathematics seemed to be the chief instrumentof the Divine Will. Gotik und Renaissance als Grundlagen der modernen Weltanschauung (Augsburg. 1971). 1929).and even architects since the beginning of the Middle Ages. for instance. the humanobserverlearnsneverto lose his sense of how the parts of the surface articulate. coll'occhio. collate. like Alberti's istoria.

The Italian reads as of Fresco. The Great Age of Frescoes. z5-8i. Masaccio seems to have abandonedthe traditionalsinopia method for laying up his Trinity fresco in Sta."59 otherwords..i: F" --t~-i-t?r-~s tS ?i~" ~ ~~fT: ?. -I--L1 . "..t . and Survivals (New York. il. 13)..-++ i -t L ----r-..Giotto to Pontormo. but also incorporated this concept as a modularsystem for his architecture.-q_-. t c?-:I-~ C--?e ~ ~?d?.rz~ (?? : ??C\ `4/ t c. pp. i?r. he had devised a very simple system for fixing a set of coordinates to every landmarkin Rome.-ft-f~-i t -?i-i-~ ? t-h.I~T~'?\r? II`~. r- t i- i ?1~- I . 4J * .he would be able to locate these places on the properparallels.-. p.tells how his hero and Donatello.F"-!':'L ~-(. t . . i. SeeJosephPolzer. The original f ?r . 124-127. also Giovanni Orlandi.60 Alberti started with a circle he called a "horizon" and dividedit into a numberof equalpartsor degrees. 52-53. after Brunelleschifailed to win the 58.. + t i i e??"i t :/i 1i? T' '' f"t--. With the instrumentlined up so that o'. the whole looked like the Ptolemaicglobe with its point of sight at one of the poles. pp.~c I -L i *_2~1Z1~1--~i~. "Nota sul testo della 'DescriptioUrbisRomae' di L.z88 *"'-~ ?'C~ ~.. Next.These radiiacted as meridians. in su striscie di pergameneche si lieuano per riquadrare le cartecon numerod'abacoe caratteche Filippointendevaperse medesimo. includinga charts. To this day streetguides constructedon the same principle are mounted in the public squares of 59.1 1.58Another example of this fascination for the grid among Florentine artists.c~ f-??t t 7 . fn.Discoveries. Alberti also became quite interestedin cartographyand worked out a mapping techniqueof his own which he applied to a new plan for the city of Rome.. to the craft of fresco painting. With this instrumenthe could fix the location of various buildingsin the city in relation to each other along the "horizon" by determiningtheir meridians. ?-Id: :* . even as applied to the surfaceof a sphere.." di Quadernon. October 1968. Thus.tl""' a. 18-59.' * i" .--.?: *-1_i Li i. he devised a Moreover.L~r??t. i . disegni.ca. 1-t-r-l'-~ /7~'-t' " i L i.i . \ L ~ `Ct.". xiii (1971).?i i . on r 1( ii- ? sJ-.-ii. 29. door competition.1.went to Rome to study ancient Baptistery architecture.Facoltai Architettura . Ugo Procacci.Then equally spaced. by pacing off the distance each buildingwas away from the center.*---1. Maria Novella in favor of a grid for transferringdetails from his sketches tooled into the intonaco surface.' itl i IC.Just when Ptolemy'sGeographiawas being copied and disseminated from the scriptoria of Florence..`?I.C--)-?--~ ?:. but a recent reconstructionhas been published by Luigi Vagnetti (Fig. iz. Recoveries. 132..MetropolitanMuseumof Art Catalogueof an Exhibitionof Mural Paintingsand MonumentalDrawings (New York. by Masaccio for example..t :.. Chalice.U-. 1440 (photo:Gabinettodei Uffizi.?~ il~F ?? 1r - i ?- t .. The Great Age small ruler (also called by him a "radius")fixed with one end at the center of the disk and rotatableso that he could site differentlandmarksby looking along its edge.~.i?--c~- ?ir r i I rt ?T1----rrs*rr ~ . 81-91. r ft 21~~ _7-I-. concentriccircles were drawn from the center. pointed north. Alberti then constructed a mechanicalmeasuringdevice of this same shape and set it up on the Capitoline Hill.t. B."Jahrbuch der Berliner Museen.is seen in the well-known drawing of a chalice attributed to Paolo Uccello (Fig.i L."ibid. . Brunelleschi's biographer. .r? Fig.L". C-\t~P~L. ~. like parallels.. Life of Brunelleschi. :? 1. Alberti. He then provideda table listing all the sites and their coordinates so they could be found on the map. ~~*"X?L:I \ JZ: t `u? ?f .. His scheme was not quite the same as Ptolemy's but certainlyderivedfrom it.. squared similarsystemfor numberingand letteringthe parallelsand meridians at the sides. "c- r :c-~.---.=Yt-=. follows: ". " . and Millard Meiss. ~~-J?? '-'-\ i 3-. ~ *'i I~i`r~ r: r?. Paolo Uccello. which was to be the exact center of the circularmap. Florence).1?-I. pp." 6o.Thus. "La 'Descriptio Urbis Romae' di L. also p. i?.eachnumberedand connectedto the centerby radii. 1968). Manetti writes. he drew In like those in the Ptolemaicatlas.In so doing. Luigi Vagnetti."The Anatomyof Masaccio'sHoly Trinity. -?. Fi 3 -.i v r? I* i Y :t "" &'" ~ strips of parchment graphs with numbers and symbols which Filippo alone understood.?'`~bJ f~'-l----CI-r I c-. it may be no coincidence that the grid was also being applied. ??+-- t ? it ~ ?--. Alberti. Universitai degli studidi Genova. iz). ~?t~? r 1. Alberti explained it carefully in a brief treatise entitled Descriptio urbis Romae.!. written about 1450. that is. B.-t ^1'i "?. 1970).i.. Brunelleschinot only employed the grid for copying ancient buildings to scale. pp.~n~R""~ (i ? ~ -? ".--*? --?-.7 ~~cl"C ..t - x. 34. Each of the radii (meridians)and concentric circles (parallels)was given a number. rS :r C. radius #48. . . t -' i i? c-? I. map is lost. they made plans and elevations by means of drawings on grid paper. Antonio Manetti...

and tourists find their destinations merely by twisting a dial according to the coordinates listed on an accompanying alphabetical chart.the nose in the next. for more on this idea. 1450 (reconstruction Luigi the The thinline represents wallsof the cityestablished aerialsurveyin 195oby the Istituto by Vagnetti). The cited text is Grayson'stranslationfrom the originalLatin. see ErwinPanofsky.62 For the author of the Treatise on Painting however the gridformed velo was not merely a device for transferring a scale 61. Alberti. Ibid.289 SEPTENTRIO 47 46 245 44 43 42 4 5 48 2 •6 7 41 / 4O' .I set this up between so the eye and the object to be represented.1972). In the latter. N.dyedwhatevercolor you please. many cities in France.ed.. 55-107. the cheeks in another. drawing. ca.pp.. .the companionpiece to his Treatiseon Painting. Cecil Grayson.sinceyou can see any objectthat is round on and in relief. that the visual pyramid passesthroughthe loose weave of the veil. and stretchedon a frame.Map of Rome.their actual locations establishedby the I. from the DescriptioUrbisRomae.. PP. Alberti then admonished his artist-readers to learn to see in terms of such grid coordinates in order that they develop an intuitive sense of proportion: A furtheradvantageis that the position of the outlines and the on can of boundaries the surfaces easilybe established accurately the paintingpanel.the Ludi matematici. structured on evenly spaced grid coordinates.63 How similar Alberti's attitude is to Ptolemy's.Albertiapplied the same principleto a device for copying statues. survey are indicatedby squares.so you can situatepreciselyall everything in its particular dividedinto on thefeatures thepanelorwall whichyou havesimilarly parallels.and again in his De statua. Some idea of how 63. Leon BattistaAlbertiOn Paintingand On Sculpture (London. especially as the Alexandrian described the purpose of chorography in the opening pages of the Geographia.M. 6z.b~A\\\i~ \ 8 39 / i 48 OCCIDENS 36 20 "AT ii 12 ORIENS 7 21 35 13 34 14 2 20 AUSTER by Fig.Lastly. which he described in Book Two of the Treatise on Painting: It is likethis: a veil looselywoven of finethread." /-"ll-•C=-. Alberti also describeda similar surveyingdevice in his treatise on practicalmathematics. and else place. for just as you see the foreheadin one parallel.the thick line follows Alberti'scalculations. 1957)."The Historyof the Theory of Human Proportionsas a Reflectionof the History of Styles.dividedup by thickerthreadsinto as manyparallelsquare sectionsas you like.61 But certainly the most interesting adaptation of Ptolemaic grid-thinking to the art of painting in the fifteenth century was Alberti's velo.The numberedcirclesare Alberti's locations for monuments. \-'i. 68-69. but a means for organizing the visible world into a geometric composition."in Meaning in the Visual Arts (Garden City.this veil affordsthe greatestassistance appropriate in executingyour picture.G.Y. 13. GeograficoMilitare.represented the flat surfaceof the veil.the chin in one below.

1959).66 In fact Columbus owned an annotated copy. Fig. ~kb 65. to HieronymousRodler. no Chinese or Muslim sailor ever applied such a conception of the world to the possibilityof sailing around it to reach land from the other side. 1531).. Helmstadt. this symbiosisbetweenGod and mammonhas remaineda peculiarWesternaccomplishment.. IS3I Fig. 1948). i5. 1923). '53'). Pienza. ca.The pictureis illustrated and discussed by Joseph Meder. AlbrechtDurer.and as a practicaltool for secular gain. Carli. I. z52zff. No Chineseor Muslimartisteverdeviseda methodof linear perspective based on projecting a grid plane to a single vanishing point. 525-591.but neitherof thesetwo greatcivilizations. Joseph Needham. and Lu Gwei-Djen. empiricalvisual perceptionas did the Western Christians. It was during his papacy (1458-1464) that the official nihil obstat of the Roman Church was granted to the new atlas. Awl . 4. AeneaeSylviiPiccolomineipostea Pii II Papaeopera Geographica Historica (printed edition.. (Princeton.. 1967).68The Mohammedanshad exploited the Ptolemaicmethodfor centuries. The Square. No matter that these two concepts were often in philosophicalconflict. 475. Western- . aaB niitzlichbtchlein und unterweisung 64. - velo. Alberti's velo might have been put into practice is seen in Figure 14. (Simeren. ca.Pienza.. 14. the mathematically related sciences have had a role in the lives of Western peoples different from that in contemporaneous civilizations to the east. Certainly Ptolemy lurks in the background of the planning of the square in Pius's Pienza (Fig. a 1531 woodcut from a German treatise on the "art of measurement.Enzo Carli. He himself wrote a lengthy Cosmographia (as part of his Historia rerum ubique gestarum) full of references to the Alexandrian geographer including a chapter on longitudes and latitudes. An artistdrawinga pictureusingthe Albertian (from Duke Johann II of Bavariaand HieronymousRodler. Chap. et 66. 10-11. Germany. 68. Similarly. Only in the West was there a propensity to understand mathematics simultaneously as the keyto the mysteryof God's Will and as the tool for man's conquestof the physicalworld.z90o ~* . - Since ancient times.both aheadof the West in nearlyall mattersof scienceand technologyat the beginningof the Renaissance. . p. he would not have had a The communitylike Florencein which to exerthis influence. Eyn der schon ntitzlichbzchlein und unterweisung kunst des Messens.. ihre Technik und Entwicklung (Vienna. II. Erwin Panofsky.67 ers saw mathematicsas servingtwo functions:as the model by which God orderedthe universe. Germany. It is interestingthat both the Empire of China and the states of Islam possessed cartographic systems based on the grid long before it became known in the West. 15).Eyn scho6n der kunst des Messens . JohannII of Bavaria. Wang Ling. This has frequently IV been attributed the duke'ssecretary. Was therenever a Chineseor Muslim Toscanelli?It does seem clear that even if therewere.J.N. 1465 (from E.la cittd di Pio II (Rome..6"" Albrecht Diirer also adapted the same idea to his own Underweysung der Messung.~~ r. 1967). Die Handzeichnung.65 It is also no coincidence that Pius II was more than casually interested in Ptolemy's Geographia. Pienza. Science and Civilisation in China (Cambridge. 1699/I700). ever made the psychological connection between a conception of a mathematicallyorderedworld and practical. pp. z vols. 67. Only in the West did theredevelopthe kind of psychological "mental set" which could rationalizecapitalism as an extension of moral law. Eng.

4 t aB~- ill ""--s I i la -eY ~~C ~ld~r /s~?~C"~ r?l. s:lo~-"ii"i~ "". Cartography. 1493. p. but it is odd that the artist chose to include an astrolabe. Such "interdisciplinary" encouragement is perhaps Florence's greatest contribution. ~s. therefore..a i-t imperial and bureaucratic policies of China and Islam during the Middle Ages did not encourage the kind of firstname. i6). ca.the fact that Pollaiuolohad his Prospectiva carryan astrolabeimpliesthat. The subject shows a svelte.d c--t ~-~"L~ert?~ . 17. of course. We should not be surprised to find the science of optics now elevated to the heretofore exclusive seven. ta: J. allegorical figure of Prospectiva.Most recently. =. .~. 1970). c c. tomb of Sixtus IV. ~Q ~I . It is tempting.?k?. but normally had no significance for optical scientists."These are unconnectedphrasesfrom Pecham's Perspectivacommunis..: ~5 ~i" ~ i r :? i Fig. i Lie.xvi (I953).?~T f~'i~"?~Y.I-:. Ettlinger. sinceshe had finally raisedherselfto be included among the liberal arts.k~r:Llu\L.. 1480-1482 (CodexAtlanticus. Nevertheless. Rome (photo: AlinariArtReference Bureau). I6. what amounted to only a workshop subscienceunder the more exalted aegis of optics. of course. John Pechamand the Scienceof Optics. i I~PI\ ? Fig. Ibid. a~z~-i~F ~F ~ 5.. the ancient tool for determining latitude. D. to think that Pollaiuolo actually intended to representpainters'perspectivein his allegorical renditionof Prospectiva.t ~: a ?i?: ~x~. The reason for its inclusion must be that Pollaiuolo recognized optics as the basis for all sciences of measuring. S. 258."In the light of the widespreadinterestin theoreticaloptics in all over Europeat this time andits increasing influence intellectualcircles. was well known to astronomers and geographers.. it is hardto believePollaiuolointended. lucis in rectumsemperporrigitur curvetur nisi diversitate medii/ Incidentiae et reflectionisanguli sunt aequales.Gadol (Leon BattistaAlis berti."Pollaiuolo'sTomb of Pope SixtusIV."Journalof the and CourtauldInstitutes. Perspectivacommunis (Madison. L. Pietro in Vincoli. she ought now to be consideredthe "mother"of all the artsof measurement. Leonardo da Vinci.and as such drew paintinginto the circleof the liberalarts. photo: ElmerBelt Library). could be "handmaidens. and no doubt painting and sculpture too.4-c. the most popular book on optics throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance.i~~Llir:~5 . she became an applied mathematicalscience in the course of the fifteenthcentury.9 :i?.r ?9V':~`ti ." -?i ?.?c . 32."She [Prospectiva] no longer the theoretical science of optics .* L.~! i:. The Latininscription in Prospectiva'sopen book reads as follows: "Sine luce nihil videtur/ Visio fit per lineasradiosasrectesuperocculummittentes/ Radius . p.p.c`?~`r??l"z. 132) has suggested. also David C. Ibisr-a. Prospectiva.70 Pollaiuolo probably never --? R r Z- VI .k ?d -~ .. k . * J sfttl-a Q. ca. Prospectiva also holds in her hands the oak branch symbol of the pope's della Rovere family and a copy of a book open to a page inscribed with scattered phrases from John Pecham's Perspectiva communis. everybody-knows-everybody-else camaraderie of the small-scale Italian communes. Warburg 70.~-:~$6 .. Antonio Pollaiuolo. c- L. as one of the artes liberales surrounding the effigy of the pontiff.69 The astrolabe. as one of Prospectiva's attributes.Wis. z58-z6i.i?J~ ~`c~-?~~* r~ ~. 8 . Detail of the a ." thought of as Prospectiva's 69.fol. We might sum up by looking at a bronze relief cast in 1493 by the Florentine Antonio Pollaiuolo for the tomb of Sixtus IV (Fig. Lindberg.? f -.291 .muchless would havebeen allowed to decorate the pope's tomb with. Prospettografo.r :3if.

I . Nevertheless.. concerningLeonardo's own applications of Ptolemaic geography. tecture. Leonardoda Vinci (Cambridge. who was writing at this time: The eye is the masterof astronomy.Mass.it advises and correctsall humanarts .Perhapsalso it is poetic justicethat Amerigo Vespuccithe Florentine. 1968). pp. T. it has discovered navigation.7n Too bad Leonardo'snotion of knowledgehas not carried over into the curriculumof the modern college of liberal arts. 1941).86-89. 71.ed. science. Baratta. and the date of his relief is only a happy coincidence. . see Vassily Zubov. disegni geografici:Leonardoda Vinci (Rome. 17)..292 heard of ChristopherColumbus. What has happened to the once lively Renaissance fusion between the sciences and the humanities? Perhaps only in a small community like mediaevalFlorence was it possible for a good idea to get from the bottom to the top in a short time...painting. For a contextual discussion of this passage.. it is the princeof mathematics it has createdarchi. Leonardo da Vinci (New York. Pollaiuolo's notion of Prospectiva seems to have been very much in the mind of Leonardoda Vinci (Fig. 1954). . gave his name to the great continents newly discovered through the transformed visual power of the Italian Renaissance. also L. it is no coincidence that architecture.and divine painting. and so many different "disciplines" in the pursuitof both God and seculargain fuse togetherwith such creativeresults. the eye carriesmen to different parts of the world.. see M.it makesgeography..ratherthan ChristopherColumbus the Genoese. Heydenreich. and perspective. I3Iff. and technology were remarkablycongruent in the fifteenth century.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful