A Map as A Work of Art and Iconographic Source

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Mapa jako dzieło sztuki i źródło ikonograficzne

A Map as A Work of Art and Iconographic Source

Old maps and atlases are among some of the most valuable works of art. For many centuries they have been sought after not only for purely practical reasons but also as collector's items. A map is also one of the sources used nowadays by the art historian, historians of urbanism and architecture, students of the history and foundations of families, or by the costume studies scholar. Maps are useful in restoring occasional art, reconstructing ceremonies associated with religious ceremonials (e.g. the holy picture coronation ceremonies) and secular rites (ceremonial arrivals of monarchs). Of greatest value to the art historian are first of all copperplate maps, in particular those showing the views of towns and outlines of buildings.

A map contains concise and accurate information about the world around us and its history. However, when treated as a historical source it has to be interpreted and, if possible, compared with written sources. The development of cartography depended on political events, in particular military ones, but also on economic occurrences and geographical discoveries. Very soon cartography was able to utilize progress in various branches of science and technology, with the invention of print as the leading branch. It was also subordinated to art: graphic art and painting. The most magnificent period in the development of cartography was in the years 1500-1700 when maps were true works of art.

One of the most valuable iconographic sources concerning Polish towns and above all illustrating their historical monuments as well as inhabitants is the work Civitates orbis terrarium (1617) by Georg Braun and Frans Hogenberg. Towns and also the pictures of magnate residences and churches in Poland and Lithuania were shown on the maps made in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries by Tomasz Makowski, Fryderyk Getkan, Józef Naronowicz-Naroński, Guillaume le Vasseur de Beauplan, Erik J. Dahlbergh, Pierre Ricaud de Tirregaille, Giovanni Antonio Rizzi Zannoni, Jakub T. Marstaller, Franciszek Florian Czaki and Herman Karol de Perthées. In the collections of Polish collectors in the eighteenth century - in the libraries of King Stanisław August Poniatowski, of Józef Jabłonowski, and of Bishop Józef Andrzej Załuski - there were not only maps illustrating the Polish and Lithuanian territories but also the works of well-known European cartographers of the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries.


Annales UMCS, Artes

The Journal of Maria Curie-Sklodowska University

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