Professor Peter Humfrey, of the School of Art History, University of St Andrews, Scotland, wrote me: I am cataloguing the 16th-century Venetian paintings in the National Gallery of Washington, and there are two pictures by Sebastiano del Piombo for which I needs the help of historians of cartography. I would be most grateful for your opinion on the following problems:
Portrait of a Humanist (c. 1520) Could the small box-shaped object on the table be a compass, or some other geographical instrument? is there anything particularly interesting or unusual about the globe? I imagine that the sitter is a geographer rather than a Latinist.
Click on this picture or here for a less compressed illustration (209 Kb), which will open in a new window.
Cardinal Sauli and Companions (1516) Are the maps in the illuminated manuscript pure invention? Could this correspond to a real, existing manuscript? Sauli was a Genoese, and I imagine that the picture celebrates the achievements of the great Genoese navigators.
Please answer to the list, and I [PvdK] will forward the answers to Peter Humfrey. Peter