In today’s digital world, map art is considered as an outdated relic of the distant past. People have forgotten how revolutionary map illustrations were during the age when there were no Google maps that chart the contours of the earth. Antique illustrated maps teach people how the world was in the past and how it changed through the centuries.
One example is the Schedel world map that was drawn in 1493. The map’s side panel shows fantastical creatures that were believed to have inhabited the farthest corners of earth. There were also countless maps made from the 17th to the 18th century that illustrate California as an island that is floating out to the seas.
Map illustrations that were created centuries ago were the symbols of people’s thirst for knowledge and their desire to explore. The shifting lines chart the direction of human history. The map illustrations are inspired by geography, politics, religion and culture. According to Massimo De Martini, director of London’s Althea Gallery, map illustrations are great topics to initiate conversations.
People buy illustrated maps because they are artifacts and artistic works that can be used to decorate walls. The 300-year old map of Arabia is still identifiable and recognizable piece of art. People are willing to spend huge sums of money for a map illustration because of their fascination with the age of exploration. This was the time when explorers sail unchartered seas to discover new lands and societies.
Althea Gallery was able to sell a world map from the 1842 edition of Geographica for more than £200,000 a few years ago. One of the oldest and most expensive maps that are currently being offered by the Althea Gallery is from the Ulm Edition of Ptolemy’s Geographica and valued at £35,000. The 1486 map depicts the recognizable silhouette of “Arabia Felix.”
Many people are fascinated by map art because it shows that evolution and progress of a specific city or country including how it developed over the years. Most of the illustrated maps depict places and events during a certain period in history. The maps are nostalgic because they show a scene that happened long time ago.