The Art of the Map: An Illustrated History of Map Elements and Embellishments

Dennis Reinhartz. Sterling, $40 (240p) ISBN 978-1-4027-6592-6
Historian and professor Reinhartz (The Cartographer and the Literati) presents this beautiful volume of cartographic accouterments, printed on heavy matte paper with colorful illustrations. He begins with a brief overview of various artistic embellishments, from the standard compass rose to stylized wind faces and coats of arms. Reinhartz discusses the age-old relationship between cartography and seafaring, sharing antique maps enhanced with images of ships as well as showcasing differing designs in times of peace and war. The historian's eye also analyzes appearances and depictions of flora, fauna, and strange mythological creatures. Throughout, Reinhartz considers how maps serve as cultural documents and records of human achievements in architecture or military prowess. For instance, "Cartographic images of ships serve as essential historical sources for naval architecture and activities... The further back in time one looks, the fewer are the sources of technical information on ships and ship-building." It's easy to lose one's self in the profusion of illustrations, and the text often feels supplementary to the images as the majority of the prose appears in detailed captions, but this collection is a pleasure to peruse and will interest a broad audience, from historians to armchair travelers. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 01/21/2013
Release date: 11/01/2012
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