Sets of four wall maps from the sixteenth century are incredibly rare. Caraci observed ‘Their importance, according to Almagia, lies above all in the fact that they present the first, and perhaps the only attempt made in the 16th century to give the public a representation, uniform in execution, and on a large scale of the whole known world.’ ‘They are masterpieces of the copper engraver’s art, at its height in Venice of the 1560s and 1570s …’ (Woodward). Of the three old world continental maps in the known collections (all by a different hand), one Asia and both of Europe are assigned to Camocio. On the Correr example of the Europe, the dedication is to Count Antonio Valmarano, Chairman of the Olympic Academy, a position he held in 1575, the year Camocio is believed to have died in the plague that took 30 per cent of Venice’s population. In this he also refers to a previously published Asia. This was derived from Ortelius’ wall map of 1567 which is in turn taken from Gastaldi’s three part map of 1559-61.
They were designed to be constructed with nine folio sheets and three half sheets along the right side. The America however, was not completed as it survives in two examples, both of nine sheets only (Museo Correr, Venice and the James Ford Bell Library). ‘It was clearly intended to be the same size as the others, but suffered one of those production glitches that frequently plagues the printing industry. After carefully engraving the sheets covering the Atlantic and most of South America, and carefully drawing the boundary of the map to the west, the engraver realized that the map was supposed to consist of three, not two, sheets across. Now, with the narrower version, the width of North America could not be properly accommodated.’ (Woodward). It is ultimately derived from a very important map, the Gastaldi ten-sheet world map engraved on wood dating to 1561, surviving in just one known example in the British Library discovered in 1939.
‘At a later date the plates passed into the possession of Stefano Scolari who finally set about finishing the America map. Two Scolaris of that name are known in Venice in the seventeenth century. The author believes that it is the later one, a Stefano Mozzi Scolari, who was active at the time concerned. He had engraved a central North America plate to fit between the old sheets one and two. Then he engraved a small one (c.100 x 335 mm.) to cover the extension of the Californian peninsula, and added the name CALIFOR NIA. Below this he placed a large panel including three columns of text in four parts, each describing a continent. This is entitled Dichiaratione Delle Quattro Parti de Mondo di Giacobo Gastaldo Raccolta da Piu Famosi Cosmografi et Historici. The new North America sheet bears the names of VIRGINIA and FLORIDA. The Ortelius-Chaves type river system is used in the south; it also contains a Lago Conibaz. The title AMERICA is placed in the blank cartouche lower left. Signs of all the errors made earlier still remain. The Asia map, from the set residing at the University of Texas, Austin, appears to be dated 1655. All except the America bear the name Stefano Scolari.’ (Burden).
This set is in a later state still. Upon closer examination of the America new nomenclature appears; Tierra del Fuego is made an island, and the south coast of Greenland is added. In this set the Asia map bears the date 1662. Almagiá (1923) vol. 1, p. 131 & vol. 2, p. 295; Beans (1948) p. 72; Betz (2007) 13; Bifolco & Ronca (2018) I p. 400, 436; Briquet (1907); Caraci (1926-32) pp. 37-48; Gallo (1951) pp. 100-2; van der Heijden (1992) pp. 64 & 93 (for the two Europe maps found with this); Hough (1980) no. 115; Karrow (1993) pp. 216-49 (Gastaldi); Kraus (1969) item 12; Shirley (1984) nos. 107 & 117; Sotheby’s catalogue, 28 June 1939 lot 1191; Stokes (1915) vol. 2, p. 15; Tooley (1939) p. 21, no. 83; Vignaud (1921) pp. 1-5; Wagner (1937) p. 57 & no. 83; Woodward (1997).