Antonio Lafreri

(1512 - 1577)

Antonio Lafreri and the so-called Lafreri School

Arguably Italy’s most influential and successful commissioner and publisher of maps, Antonio Lafreri (1512-1577) was in fact a Frenchman from Burgundy, born Antoine du Pérac Lefréry of Besançon, who settled in Rome in 1540 and in 1544, and established his business as an engraver and print seller in the Via del Perione. His name is associated with the first atlases made up to order, known to modern scholars as the IATO editions (Italian Assembled To Order). From 1553 onwards, Lafreri partnered with an established dealer, Antonio Salamanca. In 1562 Salamanca died, and from 1563 until his death in 1577, Lafreri published on his own account, and became the leading dealer in engravings in Rome.

Lafreri was primarily a dealer and publisher, rather than an artisan in his own right. He sold the prints made not only by his own establishment, but by others, and his own name appears comparatively seldom in the atlases attributed to him.

The two leading cartographic figures in the so-called Lafreri School were Giacomo Gastaldi (c1500-1566), arguably the greatest cartographer of the period, and Paolo Forlani (fl1560-1571), the leading engraver/mapmaker of the day, with a great artistic sensibility, both of whom worked in Venice. Others include:

Jacobus Bossius Belga (fl1555-1561) engraved many of Tramezini’s copies of Deventer’s work; Matthew Florimi (1540-1615), descended from a family of calligraphers, was a publisher and printer active in Siena, where he published his first work, The Pilgrim (1589). He produced both printed books and a considerable number of loose engravings, mostly of geographical and religious subjects, including maps. He worked in collaboration with the Flemish engravers P. de Jode, C. Galle, who appears to have had as a student his son John, and M. de Vos, and much of his work was derivative; Fabius Licinius worked closely with Gastaldi, engraving a number of his maps; Pirro Ligorio (fl1552-1563) was an architect, artist and cartographer, born in Naples, but based in Rome, and associated with Tramezini, who published many of his maps, plans and views; George Lily (died 1559), whose map of the British Isles of 1546 was the first separately printed map of the British Isles, was an English Catholic in exile at the Papal courts of Paul III and Julius III; Sebastian de Re (fl1557 – 1562), engraved for Tramezini and published a few maps and plans under his own name; Michele Tramezini (fl1546-1562), was a publisher based in Rome, specialising in material from original sources, and re-issues of material originally published outside Italy. Bolognini Zaltieri (fl1560’s) was influential in the map-publishing trade in Venice.