Old map of Italy and Corsica, 1570.
Italy underwent a rapid cultural development in the 16th century. This period is often called Cinquecento – a term that sums up all the cultural events in Italy between 1501 and 1600. Renaissance was in its high period and its characteristics were continuously adopted by courts across Europe. In the early 16th century, some of the most famous painters of all time such as Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) and his contemporaries Michelangelo (1475–1564), Raphael (1483–1520) and Titian (1488–1576) created their fine works in Italy. The youngest of the group, Titian, was based in Venice and qualified as one of the most respected painters of his era. In 1570, when this map was first printed, Titian worked as a court artist for King Phillip II. He painted a series of large mythological paintings for him, as well as many works inspired by Christianity and numerous portraits. He was hailed as “The Sun Amidst Small Stars” by his contemporaries. (The sentence itself is a reference to the final line of Dante’s Paradiso.) Sheila Hale’s “Titian: His Life” sums up the life and achievements of this artist in the era of High Renaissance.