World map in a Fool’s Head c.1590

“World Map Drawn in a Fool’s Head.” ca. 1590.
Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris

“This image is one of the enigmas of cartographic history. The artist, date and place of publication are all unknown. The geography of the map strongly resembles that of the world maps of Ortelius published in the 1580s, giving a tentative date of c.1590.

“Its central visual metaphor is the universality of human folly and various mottoes around the map reinforce that theme. The panel of the left says: “Democritus laughed at it, Heraclitus wept over it, Epichtonius Cosmopolites portrayed it.”

“Although Epichtonius Cosmopolites appears to be the author’s or artist’s name, it translates roughly as “Everyman,” leaving the mapmaker’s true identity hidden.”

- The Image of the World: 20 Centuries of World Maps (Peter Whitfield)


Thank you to Laputan Logic and Amanda Uren

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