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First state of Robert Dudley's rare sea chart of India, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, northwestern Sumatra, the Andaman Islands, the Nicobar Islands and a part of Pegu (Myanmar).
The chart is an elegant engraving by Antonio Francesco Lucini, with a Baroque dolphin motif at the cartouche and with place names "L'India Orientale", "Asia" and "Coromandell" at the east coast of the continent. The coast line of the continent is punctuated with numerous water courses, creating a lace like effect.
The chart appeared in Dudley's Arcano del Mare, one of the rarest and most highly sought after sea atlases of the 17th Century. Dudley, an Englishman, produced this exquisite work while living in Florence. Dudley, who was believed to have received some of his information directly from Sir Francis Drake, labored for decades before finally releasing the first edition of this work when he was 73 years old. Dudley's atlas is of the utmost importance, being the first Sea Atlas published by an Englishman and the first Sea Atlas to treat the entire world (not just Europe). It is also the first atlas to utilize the Mercator Projection on a uniform basis and included significant advances in "Great Circle" navigation (shortest circle around the Globe). Its inclusion of winds and currents was also a monumental first. Completed in Manuscript form in 1636, it is among the most important works in the history of European Cartography.
Robert Dudley (1574 - 1649) was the illegitimate son of Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester. In 1594, Dudley led an expedition to the West Indies, of which he wrote an account. In 1605 he tried unsuccessfully to establish his legitimacy in court. After that he left England and converted to Catholicism, taking up residence in Florence where he served the Grand Dukes of Tuscany in their efforts to rid the Mediterranean of Piracy. There he worked as a noted shipbuilder and designed and published Dell'Arcano del Mare, the first maritime atlas to cover the whole world. He was also a skilled navigator, mathematician and engineer. In Italy he styled himself Earl of Warwick and Leicester, as well as Duke of Northumberland. He was a friend of Sir Francis Drake and relative of Thomas Cavendish, both of whom corresponded with Dudley and likely supplied some of the information for his Atlas.
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