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Gerard Mercator

National Museum of American History
Gerard Mercator (1512-1594) was a cartographer and mathematician from Rumpelmonde who worked in Antwerp, in the Spanish Netherlands, and later in Duisburg, in western Germany. Frans Hogenberg (1535-1590), an engraver of maps and city views, created this half-length portrait in 1574. Mercator here wears a flat hat and long beard, and uses dividers to measure distances on his terrestrial globe of 1541, a globe that depicted America, Peru, and the north magnetic pole. The image was produced at the request of Abraham Ortelius, a Flemish merchant, scholar, and cartographer who compiled what is considered to be the first modern atlas. Ortelius wanted the portrait for inclusion his Album Amicorum. It later appeared in Mercator’s 1584 edition of Ptolemy’s Geography and the 1595 edition of Mercator’s Atlas. This example was used as frontispiece to Mercator's Italiae Sclavoniae, et Graeciae tabulae geographicae (Duisburg: 1589). The text at top reads “ÆTATIS SUÆ LXII.” The text around the image reads “Magna Pelusiacis debetur gratia chartis: Magna tibi priscum tandem superasse laborem. Mercator, tractusque novus, terræque, arosque. Mons trasse, et magnum quod continent Omnia cæsum. I. Vivian. ludeb:” The text below the image reads “GERARDI MERCATORIS RUPELMUNDANI EFFIGIEM ANNOR. / DUORUM ET SEX – AGINTA, SUI ERGA IPSUM STV DII / CAUSA DEPINGI CURABAT FRAC. HOG. M. D. LXXIV.” Ref: Mercator, Gerhard, 1512-1594, Karrow, Robert W., Octavo Corporation, Lessing J. Rosenwald Collection (Library of Congress), Atlas sive cosmographicae meditationes de fabrica mundi et fabricati figura [Octavo CD-ROM edition], Oakland, CA: Octavo digital ed., 2000 [1595]; Nicholas Crane, Mercator. The Man Who Mapped the Planet (New York, 2003). Jason Harris, “The Practice of Community: Humanist Friendship during the Dutch Revolt,” Texas Studies in Literature and Language 47 (2005): 299-325.