Peace of the Ladies

Christmas markets for the Upper East Side opened with classic exclusiveness this week courtesy of TEFAF, the world’s pre-eminent fair of art and antiques. A New Normal for Collecting Antiquities in a Post-Loot Culture featured as a paneled discussion within whispering distance of a Buddhist deity from the Ming Dynasty, first editions of Jane Austen and a newly discovered van Gogh painting. But the piece de resistance, the most fabulous of treasures that outshone all other must-haves in the vast Park Avenue armory, was a map created in Italy in 1531. But this was not just any map.

Made from six goatskins, the map is one of only 24 in the world that are known to have survived. Fortunately this one had been rolled and in private ownership for generations, so the condition was excellent. Bright colours in glorious detail, painted in blue lapis and liquid gold, created images of camels and kings, settlements on the Nile, and even unicorns in Rede China. The winds were painted blowing from all directions as were the viewing angles, with ships upside down and around presumably so people could see from all sides. New York was mapped for the first time, under a different name, but it was the politics behind the drawing of the map that overshadowed the $10M price tag.

In 1531 the known world was at war. Genoa had been sacked so many times that the Pope endeavored to find a solution by dividing up the world. Lines on the map indicated that all to the right belonged to the Portugese and all to the left to the Spanish. This did not please the French of course and the wars continued. So the aunt of King Charles V in Spain and the mother of King Francis in France got together and negotiated a peace. The Peace of the Ladies. The map was unsold when I left around lunch time. Maybe buyers from the United Nations came later in the day…

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3 Responses to Peace of the Ladies

  1. Paul Goulding says:

    Hi Fitzy ,
    Thank you so very much on such a great educational report from New York and love hearing your voice on these things your are so passionate about .
    Look forward to your next report .
    Paul Goulding
    Sydney Australia

    • Thank you Paul. I was absolutely enthralled by that map and the history behind it. And what a privilege to be able to see it and feel the past reaching out. We need more than one lifetime!

  2. June Read says:

    Absolutely fabulous!

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