Cartographic and pictorial treasures

National and University Library of Slovenia

Treasures of the National and University Library of Slovenia

Cartographic treasures
Our Cartographic Collection encompasses geographic, historical and ethnographic atlases, general and theme maps and town plans. Besides the valuable old atlases and maps, which hold not only historical, but also artistic value, among the most important collections are old Austrian ordinance survey maps and military maps, post-war Yugoslavian national topographic maps and basic topographic plans, and the latest Slovenian cartographic production. 

Freilaender, Peter: Quinta Europae tabula, around 1520

In the 2nd century, Ptolemy, an astronomer, a mathematician, geographer and physicist, who lived the city of Alexandria, published his extensive Geography (Geography hyfegesis), in which he assessed the size of the Earth, described its surface, and marked about 10,000 known locations along the latitude and longitude. In Geography, he published 27 maps of the then known world.


A very rare drawing from the original of Ptolemy’s maps is the oldest cartographic illustration kept in the Map and Pictorial Collection of the National and University Library. Peter Freiländer, a Vienna University professor, who was the first owner of the book, depicted the map around 1520.

Ptolemy published 27 maps, 10 of which show Europe. The fifth map covers the territory of the Eastern Alps, the Pannonian Plain and the larger part of Italy, the Adriatic Sea and the Balkan Peninsula.

Sambucus, Joannes: Illyricum, Vienna, 1572

Hungarian Joannes Sambucus (1531-1584) practiced medicine, law, languages and philosophy. He was a professor in Bologna, Paris and in Vienna, where he became a councillor to the Emperor, court historian and court physician. He was not a cartographer; he remade and repaired either modern or outdated maps. He prepared a map of Illyricum, which is a supplement and correction of the older map made by Hirschvogel.

In 1573, it was printed in the third edition of the Theatrum orbis terrarum of the famous Dutch cartographer A. Orteli. He collected the best maps of the time and in 1570 published the first atlas, a collection of maps the world. The book was quickly sold out, and was reprinted several times in the following years. These editions comprise the earliest regional maps of the Slovenian territory.

Ilyricum brings a considerable advancement in terms of representation of our land: waters are shown in an original way; Sambucus’s display of relief is particularly original.

The map also comprises many settlements marked by castles and churches. The local names are written in italics that was introduced in cartography by Gerhard Mercator.

On the corner of the map, there is a Sambucus’ letter describing his own efforts to improve the accuracy of the map.

Mercator, Gerhard: Karstia, Carniola, Histria et Windorum Marchia, around 1589

An important turning point in the development of cartography is the work of Gerardus Mercator (Gerhard Kremer) (1512–1594), a mathematician, astronomer and cartographer who paved the way for mathematical cartography with scientific approaches. In 1569, he gained worldwide reputation for his map of the world on 18 sheets – it is done in the so-called Mercator projection, named after him. It is still used today for air and sea navigation.

At the same time, he started preparations for his own extensive collection of maps, which he planned to name Atlas. The individual parts of this important cartographic collection were published from 1585; as he died in the early December 1594, he did not live to see publishing of the complete publication. Already in the following year, his son and heir Rumold published a collection of 107 maps with some additional sheets. The most important Mercator’s work is titled “Atlas” which was the author’s own idea and decision. Since then, the term “atlas” has become an established generic name of map collections.

Slovenian territories are shown on Mercator's map from 1589, which includes Friuli, Karst, Carniola, Istria and Slovenian March.

The map is an excellent example of the author's ambition to gather as much data as possible, along with his concern for mathematically correct and aesthetic form of the map.

Blaeu, Wilhelm: Nova totius terrarum orbis geographica ac hydrographica tabula Amsterdami, 1649
Famous Dutch cartographers – father Willem Janszoon Blaeu (1571–1638) and his son Joan Blaeu (1598–1673) continued the work of Ortelius. In 1635, they published the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum atlas, the Siva Atlas Novus in two parts. As the official cartographer of the Dutch East India Company, Blaue had access to information about geographical discoveries, which were not available to any of his competitors. The publishing company thus complemented the next editions with new maps. In 1655, the atlas was published in six volumes, and in 1662 in eleven volumes, with the new title, Le Grand Atlas, ou Cosmographie Blaviane, or in short Atlas Maior. As an exceptional cultural achievement of the Dutch publishing, the atlas even became a national symbol of the Netherlands. 

Many experts rank the Map of the World among the most beautiful maps ever made.

Beautiful side decoration in Baroque style is one of the most recognizable elements of Blaue's cartography. On the upper edge, there is an allegorical representation of the sun and the moon and five known planets, on the one side are four basic elements of life: fire, air, water, earth.

On the other side is a depiction of seasons, while the seven wonders of the ancient world are on the lower edge.

Jansson, Johann: Danubis, fluvius Europeae maximus, a fontibus ad ostia, 1656

The cover of the Latin edition of the Atlas novus in the five volumes of the Dutch cartographer Johannes Jansson. On the top of the front-page, the demigod Atlas carries on his shoulders the vault of heaven.

Below Atlas are the allegorical representations of the then-known continents – Africa, America...

... Europe and Asia.

Vischer, Georg Matthaeus: Styriae Ducatus Fertilissimi Nova Geographica Descriptio, 1678

Georg Matthäus Vischer (1628-1696), the Austrian topographer and cartographer became engaged in cartography on the orders of the provincial nobility. He made large maps of the Upper Austria (1667), the Lower Austria (1670) and Styria (1678). For all three lands, he also made topographies with copper plates of cities, squares, monasteries and castles.

Map of Styria was published on twelve sheets of the format of 37, 7 x 45 cm, in the approximate scale of 1: 172,800, after Vischer had "travelled all over the country and visited, saw and depicted all castles, manors, church estates, monasteries and churches, towns, markets, villages, mountains and valleys, forests, waters, valley borders - on the whole, all corners of the country necessary for making a real regional map" (quote from landed gentry’s letter of safeguard).

The map shows the territory south of Salzburg to Carinthia and Carniola with the Slovenian part of Styria. The map has extremely luxurious emblems, allegories and various scenes.

Andreas Trost, a copperplate engraver, carved the glorious chariot with the coats of arms of the Styrian provincial representatives. Above them, there is the Styrian provincial coat of arms in the decorative medallion.

There is a long homage to the provincial nobility in a diadem crowned with laurel, followed by the allegory of a significant victory of the Austrian army over the Turks in 1664 at Szentgotthárd, represented by St. Mihael’s combat with a dragon...

...and the ornamental frame with a scale, an explanation of topographic signs and measuring instruments. Vischer used them used for manufacturing of the map.

One of the angels at the top of the ornamental frame holds the Vischer's portrait.

In the ornamental frames at the bottom, the map-reader recognizes the natural resources of the country.

Valvasor, Janez Vajkard: Carniolia, Karstia, Histria et Windorum Marchia, 1689

Valvasor (1641-1693), a polymath, a topographer, a member of the British Royal Society in London, was aware of the shortcomings of the existing cartographic presentations of Carniola; they were created without any direct surveys, observations and field measurements. In Chapter 14 of the second book of The Glory of the Duchy of Carniola, he wrote about his ambition of creating a large map of Carniola, based on his own measurements and inquiries: “…. I have measured the country everywhere with my viatorio astrolabio because I wanted to create a large geographical map. Next time, I will put it in front of eyes of a curious reader if God will give me life, and if time will allow me to produce it - until now, I have been short of time."

Death overtook him; however, his cartographic legacy is very important. For decades, his maps served mapmakers as basis and source in making maps of our country. He illustrated the geographical image of the well-described Carniola region.

Map of Carniolia, Karstia, Histria et Windorum Marchia published in The Glory of the Duchy of Carniola is to some extent a renewal of a map from 1681. Valvasor used the data on geographical forms from older maps that he completed with new, in general more accurate data, which were the result of his own measurements and observations in the field. To the reader The Glory, he illustrated the geographical image of the well-described Carniolia region.

. It is important to know that being an expert of the Lake Cerknica, he delimited its oversized image. Valvasor had professional literature, geodetic instruments and cartographic equipment.
Documents in Valvasor's legacy indicate that he had a Jakob's cross, measuring rods, a spherical ring, compasses, a declination compass, a double diopter with busola, quadrants, a pedometer and reduction compasses.

On his map of Carniola, Valvasor indicated waters, relief, flora (forests), settlements and borders. Depending on the scale, he appropriately generalized the content according to the cartographic method of the time.

Homann, Johann Baptist: Tabula Ducatus Carnioliae Vindorum Marchiae et Histriae, 1715

In 1702, J. B. Homann founded his own workshop and began preparing maps for his atlas. The first was published in 1707. His Grosser Atlas of 126 maps from 1716 is especially known. Homann made more than 200 maps, created partly after Dutch, partly after French examples. They are distinguished by clear drawing techniques, artistic decoration and illuminated after a special method of surface colouring. He was appointed royal geographer thanks to his numerous activities. After 1730, Homann's successors founded the Homann Officina, a cartographic company. Until the 19th century, it published atlases with Homann’s maps. It lead the field in the production of maps in Germany.

Homann made the map of the Duchy of Carniola with the Slovenian March and Istria according the Valvasor’s data.

The veduta of Ljubljana is in the upper right corner...

...while on the bottom there is a plan of the Lake Cerknica with swamps and ponds on the lake bottom, underground streams, caves and the surrounding area.

The rich baroque ornament includes: the coat of arms of the Duke of Carniola, a representation of a naked child with a mercury barograph (at that time, the Idrija mercury mine was at the height of exploiting its potential), an allegory of war with the Turks and the personalisation of Carniola with olive branch in hand.

Florjančič, Janez Dizma: Ducatus Carnioliae Tabula Chorographica, Ljubljana, 1744

The first »Slovenian« cartographer after Valvasor was Janez Dizma Florjančič de Grienfeld (Joannes Dismas Floriantschitsch de Grienfeld) (1691 – circa 1757). His father was a well-known member of the Academia operosorum. By education, he was a theologian, serving in the Stična Cistercian monastery.

His wall map of the Ducatus Carnioliae Tabula Chorographica (Topographic map of the Duchy of Carniola) in the scale of 1: 100,000, published in 1744, was the most accurate map of the country at that time.

The map was the result of the author's more than 10 years of work, when he was travelling across Carniola and performed geodetic measurements in almost 300 major heights. Based on these measurements, he corrected the existing maps and prepared a very detailed map, which was intended for the public.

Florjančič's measurements were very accurate; this is evidenced by the fact that he wrote about Triglav, the highest mountain of Carniola:” …it rises to a vertical height of 1399 Parisian six-time shoes above the Ljubljana horizon” – which is in fact 162 metres more than the right height”.

It is especially worth mentioning that the name Triglav (Terglou) is mentioned here for the first time in a published work for public. The names of the places are written in dialect, partly in German, or were even bilingual – thus, they are a rich source for historical and linguistic studies.

Florjančič's map consists of twelve leaves cut into copper plates by Abraham Kaltschmidt. It also features a veduta of Ljubljana in the upper right corner.

Under it, the most detailed and first published plan of the capital with a list of the most important objects in the city is drawn in the scale of 1: 5 000.

The map has rich illustrations. Particularly luxurious is the title of the map with allegory depictions of some regional features on its right lower part.

Around personified Carniola are coats of arms of noble families, supporting the preparation of the map, as well as the provincial coat of arms. Under Carniola’s feet, there are objects that remind of the times of the Turkish invasions.
A nude cherub is holding a sign of the planet Mercury in his hand; a miner in the costume with a mercury manometer refers to the mercury mine in Idrija.

In a cave, two cherubs forge iron, which is an allusion to iron processing, an important activity in the country.

Out of a pumpkin like jug, Neptune pours out the Sava and the Kolpa rivers.

A wild mountain landscape, a river gorge and a waterfall represent the Kamniška Bistrica valley, the natural rock bridge and the Predoselj gorge.

Freyer, Henrik: Special-Karte des Herzogthums Krain, 1843

Henry Karel Freyer, a pharmacist, a botanist and a curator of the Provincial Museum in Ljubljana, is the author of the Kranjska map, printed on sixteen sheets, published from 1843 to 1846 in Vienna by the H. F. Müller Artistic Publishing House.

The map in an approximate scale of 1: 115,000 is based on the Austrian General Staff map from 1834. Freyer collected material for the map during his botanical, biological, geological and geographical observations and exploration of Carniola. Rivers brooks and roads, paths and cart tracks are very precisely mapped out, as well as the line of the South Railway, extending up to Ljubljana.

The map is very important due to its Slovenian-German local names. He marked the place first with a Slovenian name, which he even emphasized with the writing, and then he added its German name, sometimes in brackets. . The places are drawn very accurately; where there are no settlements, there are signs for small villages and solitary farms with their names.

Kozler, Peter: Zemljovid Slovenske dežele in pokrajin, Wien, 1853
Peter Kozler  (1824- 1879) was a lawyer, geographer, politician, one of the richest industrialists in Carniola (brewery in Ljubljana). He advocated the introduction of the Slovenian language into schools, explored the practical possibilities for the creation and extent of the Kingdom of Slovenia with its own provincial assembly. He studied the presence of Slovenians in Istria, in the Gorizia district, in Carinthia and Hungary, and then published the Map of the Slovenian Land and Its Provinces - he marked the Slovenian ethnic border, and clarified it in the accompanying booklet. The fate of the map was unusual. In 1849, the almost finished plate disappeared with all the material. After two years, the plate and material were found, and Kozler entrusted the completion of the engraving to engraver Anton Knorr. Due to the ban of the police directorate in Vienna in the wake of the aggravated situation in the period of Bach's absolutism, the first edition was available to the public only in 1861. Controversial was an almost complete Slovenian toponymy (used for the first time on a map), and marked linguistic borders to which the Slovenian language was spoken at the time. Together with the title of the map, it was a sufficient reason for banning the publication claiming that it shows a non-existent political formation.

The map is made at the scale of 1:576,000, in small format of 50 by 505 centimeters, to cover all Slovenian land. Because the names of the settlements are written in very small letters, the map is rather difficult to read. The map is based on a military topographical map with a shaded relief.

The accompanying booklet from 1852, with the publishing year of 1854, has a geographical description of the regions, statistical data and an ethnographic chapter that gives a detailed description of linguistic boundary, based on arguments.

Situations-Plan der Provinzial-Hauptstadt Laibach, 1834

An interesting plan of Ljubljana from 1834.

Pictorial treasures
Pictorial materials consists of original and reproduced graphic sheets by national and international artists, folders and albums with artistic reproductions and ex-librises. The collection of portrait, documentary and landscape photography and the collection of postcards are extremely rich. The collection also contains the entire postcard opus of Maksim Gaspari. Pictorial materials include also illustrated calendars and the collection of Slovenian illustrated posters. The collection contains almost 240.000 units of processed materials.

Valvasor, Janez Vajkard: Topographia Ducatus Carnioliae modernae, Bogenšperk, 1679

A topography of the contemporary Duchy Carniola by one of the most notable men to ever have lived and worked in Slovenia includes 320 copper engravings of cities, towns, monasteries and castle in Carniola.

The Topography also includes a copper engraving of Cerknica and its disappearing lake. Valvasor was to first to research and scientifically describe the famous Cerknica Lake.

Kaiser, Johann Friedrich: Maribor, around 1820

The rendering of the largest Slovenian city in Styria, from the rich suite by J. F. Kaiser from the first third of the 19th century.

Postojna railway station, 1857

The railway station in Postojna, from a publication on the construction of the Ljubljana-Trieste railway line.

Runk, F. F.: Radgona, 1810

A beautifully colored veduta of Radgona, by a well-known Austrian landscape painter, F.F. Runk, from the first half of the 19th century.

Wagner, Joseph: Kranj, around 1845

A rendering of Kranj from the suite Malerische Ansichten aus Krain by Joseph Wagnerja from mid-19th century.

Illustrations for The Jungle Book by Nikolaj Omersa (1911–1981).

Portrait of poets Oton Župančič (1878-1949) and Cvetko Golar (1879-1965).

A portrait of Zofka Kveder (1878-1926) a Slovenian writer, playwright, translator and journalist.

A portrait of sculptor and painter Tone Kralj (1900-1975).

Credits: Story

From the book Treasures of the National and University Library
Exhibition: Renata Šolar and Žiga Cerkvenik
Narodna in univerzitetna knjižnica, 2017

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Translate with Google
Home
Explore
Nearby
Profile