Battle of Lepanto
By PORCACCHI, Thomaso , 1590

Conflitto Navale, Successo A' Curzolari Nel Mare Ionio [Battle of Lepanto at Curzolari on the Ionian Sea, 1571]

Europe Turkey
  • Author: PORCACCHI, Thomaso
  • Publication place: In Venetia
  • Publisher: Appresso gli heredi di Simon Galignani
  • Publication date: 1590
  • Physical description: Woodcut illustration
  • Dimensions: 110 by 150 mm (4.25 x 6 inches)
  • Inventory reference: 3340


A vivid illustration of the Battle of Lepanto on 7 October 1571, which took place in the Gulf of Corinth in northern Greece between the Holy League and the Ottoman Empire. The Holy League, a coalition of western European Catholic states, mostly from Italy and Spain, was formed in response to Ottoman aggression in Cyprus and in particular the sacking of the Christian colony of Famagusta.The Holy League won a decisive victory; despite this, Venice still surrendered Cyprus to the Ottomans two years later. Lepanto is notable for being the last major battle fought between oar-powered galleys, and according to some commentators, for preventing the spread of the Ottoman Empire into western Europe.

An illustration from ‘L’isole piu famose’ by Tommaso Porcacchi, a beautiful and important isolario first published in 1572. The isolario, or island book, was a genre developed in the Mediterranean over the sixteenth century as a unique blend of literature, geography and art. It combined up-to-date cartography with contemporary accounts of and information about the places it portrayed. Porcacchi’s work represents the culmination of a movement in the genre towards cartographical accuracy; ‘L’isole’ was aimed specifically at readers who ‘dello studio della geografia si dilettano’ (delight in geographical studies). ‘L’isole’ was the first isolario with maps engraved on copper.

This is the third edition of ‘L’isole piu famose’, enlarged from the original and, according to Phillips, containing 17 maps which do not appear in the 1572 original including two of the New World: Jamaica and Puerto Rico. The addition of the New World islands from the second edition onwards reflects contemporary interest in the geography of the Americas. The detailed, beautifully engraved island maps are set in context by the two splendid world maps in the closing sections entitled ‘Descrizione del Mappamondo’ and ‘Discorso intorno alla carta da navigate,’ pages 193 to 20.


  1. Philips 3328
  2. Sabin 64105
  3. Shirley 127–28
  4. c.f. 'The World Encompassed' 86.