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Rust image

Hanns Rüst (fl. 1472–1497)
Mappa Mundi
Augsburg, ca. 1480
400 x 285 mm
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan in 1912
PML 19921
See CORSAIR catalog record for this item »

This is the only copy of the earliest woodcut world map printed on a single sheet of paper in the fifteenth century. Two other maps, now in libraries in Germany and Washington, DC, were based upon this print, and all three were pasted into early printed books from the 1470s. The depiction of the spherical world is based upon earlier medieval traditions that placed Jerusalem at the center, with the Garden of Eden at the top (east) and the Mediterranean Sea to the bottom (west). While the map was produced in Germany, no cities in central Europe are labeled on the map, and Rome ("Rom") is located east of Venice ("Venedig"), with Greece still further to the west. On the edges of the then known world are the mythic and monstrous races, including dog-headed and two-headed people, while in the waters around the edge float islands, such as England ("Engenland") at the bottom left. At the very bottom of the map, the left circle depicts the four elements: air, fire, land, and water, while the one on the right shows the three parts of the world: land, town, and sea. The artist's name is in the banner in the middle.

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Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.