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Pianta di Città del Messico (Timistitano): Ballino 1569

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  • Title: Pianta di Città del Messico (Timistitano)
  • Author: Giulio Ballino
  • Date: 1569
  • Condition: Very wide margins (cropped in photo), usual light toning, scattered light foxing
  • Inches: 8 1/4 x 11 1/4 [Image]
  • Centimeters: 20.96 x 28.58 [Image]
  • Product ID: 102280

Very Rare Plan of Mexico City

Fascinating early map of Mexico City by Giulio Ballino in 1569, from the Venetian publisher-typographer Bolognino Zaltieri. From De' Disegni delle Piu Illustri Citta, et Fortezze del Mondo Parte I, which was comprised of one engraved map and 50 plans and views. This very rare book was composed of descriptions and illustrations of city views and fortifications in Italy, Europe and Asia. Mexico City (here called "Timistitano", i.e. Tenochtitlan) is the only plan in the atlas of a site in the western hemisphere.

While Venetians were not the discoverers or explorers of the New World, Venice was the capital of early modern print culture and transmitted knowledge about the explorations to Europe. A close look at the work of a series of Venetian armchair travelers (editors, mapmakers, and designers of costume books) reveals the profound anxieties these authors expressed about Venice's changing status in early modern Europe. Once an unassailable maritime and territorial empire, the lagoon city was increasingly eclipsed in the sixteenth century, economically and culturally, by the Ottomans and other emerging European powers. In response, Venetian writers employed the cultural strategy of using images of the New World to assert the importance of the Venetian past. Such images served to assuage their insecurities and shore up images of Venetian superiority.

Little is known about Giulio Ballino, Italian humanist and scholar who compiled the work and wrote the text. He was an associate of Paolo Manuzio (1512-1574), who mentions him in correspondence in the 1560s as working for him in various capacities, including corrector and editor. Ballino's literary activity was primarily as a popularizer, translating many Greek philosophical and theological works into Italian. Printer and publisher Bolognino Zaltieri used the plates of several different engravers throughout the book, such as plans by Paolo Forlani (active 1560-1577) and Domenico Zenoi (active 1560-1580).