Multispectral Imaging for the Study of Early Renaissance Cartography

The Lab
Level 2 of the Digital Studio
West Wing of Arts West
(access via the rear lift)


Chet Van Duzer
Brown University

In this seminar Chet Van Duzer will give an account of a recent project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities to make multispectral images of a world map made by Henricus Martellus in about 1491, which is held by the Beinecke Library at Yale. This large map has long been thought to be one of the most important of the fifteenth century, and was thought to have influenced Martin Waldseemüller's world map of 1507, but the many texts on the map were illegible due to fading and damage, and thus its exact place in Renaissance cartography was impossible to determine. The new multispectral images have rendered most of the previously illegible texts on the map legible. Van Duzer will explain why the Martellus map was an excellent candidate for multispectral imaging, describe the process of making the images, show the results, and give an account of the place of the Martellus map in late fifteenth- and early sixteenth-century cartography.

Chet Van Duzer is a Researcher in Residence at the John Carter Brown Library and a board member of the Lazarus Project at the University of Rochester, which brings multispectral imaging to cultural institutions around the world. He has published extensively on medieval and Renaissance maps. His book The World for a King: Pierre Desceliers' Map of 1550 was published at the end of 2015 by the British Library. In 2018 Springer published his book Henricus Martellus's World Map at Yale (c. 1491): Multispectral Imaging, Sources, and Influence. He recently completed a David Rumsey Research Fellowship at Stanford and the John Carter Brown Library studying Urbano Monte's manuscript world map of 1587. His current project is a book about cartographic cartouches.

Image: Lazarus Project / RIT / EMEL / MegaVision, courtesy of Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.