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Giovanni Maria Cassini (1745 – 1824)

was a Rome based Italian mathematician, geographer, cartographer, engraver and globe maker. He was one of the last artists in the 18th century to engrave spheres  and his globes were quite famous. His main work is the three-volume atlas „Nuovo atlante geografico universale delineato sulle ultimo osservazioni“, published between 1792 and 1801, which was the most important Italian atlas of the 18th century. Though Cassini produced a significant corpus of well-regarded work, little is known about his  personal life.

Size: 48 x 34 cm
Image: Uncoloured
Year: 1796

Map details

This extremely rare chart of Iceland „is undated, but was probably made some time around 1720. The basis is the map of Iceland by Joris Carolus, not other sea charts by the van Keulens“ ( and was most likely published in one of the editions of the „Zee-Fakkel“.

The title of this detailed and beautifully coloured map is placed on top of the map. Rhumb lines are intersecting three compass roses, two in the ocean and one in the interior of the country. There are two distance scales in the lower left corner. Above them is an information on the author, his address and his patent: „te Amsterdam by Gerard van Keulen, Aan de Nieuwen Brugh met Privilegie“.

In the interior of the island numerous fjords, mountains, rivers and lakes and also some settlements are depicted. The bishoprics  Skalholt and Holar are highlighted with triform cathedrals: Skalholt bigger and with the inscription „Hoofdstadt van Ysland“ (Capital of Iceland) and Holar („Halar“) smaller with the inscription „Bischoppeleke Stadt en hoogescheel“ (???). Another triform small cathedral is „Haner of Haver“ (probably Hafnarfjördur). Spectacular is the depiction of the famous volcano („den Bergh Hekla“) with the comment: „dees Berg brand niet meer heeft in‘t Iaar 1692 opgehouden“ (this mountain does not burn any more since 1692). Astonishingly many glaciers („hokell“) have names. Some are easy to identify e.g. „Solheima“, others not e.g. „Amcopeltz“.

In the west of Iceland „Goubermans Eylanden of Klippen“ are to be seen which do not exist in reality. North of the Westfjords an area is named „Zee Gronden“, probably a warning of shallow waters. The Arctic Circle is drawn completely wrong.