Abraham Ortelius


Artist Biography:

Abraham Ortel (Ortelius) was born in 1528 in Antwerp, where he studied Greek, Latin and Mathematics before setting up business with his sister as a book dealer and "painter of maps". He was successful in his career, but the publication of his World Map in eight sheets of 1564 brought him renown and encouraged him both to publish further examples and then to collate these with other maps from European cartographers into his Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, or "Atlas of the Whole World". Although collections of maps had been published before in book form, the Theatrum was the first book in which the maps were sized and laid out in a uniform way, and may therefore be considered the first proper atlas, though the word itself was not actually in use until Gerard Mercator popularised it later in the century. The atlas published by Ortelius, as Ortel was better known, was an enormous success and appeared in many different editions and languages, and by other publishers, before its final edition was published in 1612. Ortelius was careful to acknowledge the contribution of other cartographers, in a way that many publishers did not, and the maps from the 42 editions of the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, published between 1570 and 1612, were also published in a smaller size in a variety of formats between 1577 and 1585 by Ortelius in his collection, Spiegel der Werelt. Ortelius died in 1598 and is still acknowledged as one of the greatest cartographers of all time.

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