General Atlas of All the Islands in the World

Islario general de todas las islas del mundo (General atlas of all the islands in the world) is the greatest work by Seville cosmographer Alonso de Santa Cruz (1505–67). The atlas was begun during the reign of Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain Charles V and finished in that of his son King Philip II, to whom it was dedicated. It consists of 111 maps representing all the islands and peninsulas of the world, and showing all the discoveries made by European explorers from 1400 to the mid-16th century. The atlas begins with a letter by Santa Cruz to the king, in which he justifies his work and explains different geographic concepts. Preceding the maps is “Breve introducción de la Sphera” in which Santa Cruz makes a cosmographic description, illustrated by 14 astronomical figures. The maps are organized in four parts: the first deals with the North Atlantic; the second, with the Mediterranean and adjacent areas; the third, with Africa and the Indian Ocean; and the fourth with the New World. The maps include scales in latitude and some in longitude and bodies of water with varied scales and oriented with compass roses. The Islario general is the earliest atlas in which paper is used, instead of the parchment that was previously most commonly used for such charts. The design of the maps is more functional, with less attention to aesthetics and more to geographic detail than in the late-medieval portolan maps and atlases. Scholars have determined, on the basis of the dates that appear in the descriptive texts on the islands, that the maps were made beginning in the fourth decade of the 16th century, around 1539, and that the entire atlas was completed circa 1560. It is highly probable that the Islario general was a part of a Geografía Universal that Santa Cruz never finished. Santa Cruz was one of the key figures of the Casa de Contratación (House of Trade) in Seville. One of his first works was a set of the spherical charts of the New World. He created various other works on cosmography and geography, such as the Libro de longitudes; and on historical themes, including  Crónica de los Reyes Católicos (Chronicle of the Catholic kings) and Crónica de Carlos V (Chronicle of Charles V). Following Santa Cruz’s death, his successor, Andrés García de Céspedes, attempted to claim credit for this work. On the cover the name Alonso de Santa Cruz has been erased, García de Céspedes’s name is inserted as if he were the author, and the work is dedicated to King Philip III. In the manuscript itself, apocryphal texts have been superimposed over the originals, with the aim of disguising the real authorship and date of creation.


For the first time since the 17th century, the portraits of famous men commissioned by Duke Federico da Montrefeltro are once again together in his palace studiolo – a small, luxurious room that was used as a showpiece to celebrate Federico’s humanist interests and intelligence as well as a private space for contemplation and (possibly) study. Though the splendid intarsia remains in its original location as the room’s wainscoting, the colorful portraits that once filled the upper portions of the room’s four walls were removed in 1632 and cut down into twenty-eight separate pictures, now divided between the Louvre in Paris and the ducal palace at Urbino. Through 4 July 2015 visitors can experience the studiolo almost as Federico first did when it was dedicated in 1476. Reservations are required to visit the reconstituted studiolo and accompanying exhibition Lo Studiolo del Duca – Il ritorno degli Uomini Illustri alla Corte di Urbino.

Palazzo Ducale Urbino
Piazza Duca Federico 107, 61029 URBINO
12 March through 4 July 2015

Reassembled portraits, studiolo, Palazzo Ducale, Urbino

Palazzo Ducale, Urbino

Exhibition poster

Joos van Ghent and Pedro Berruguete, Portrait of St. Thomas Aquinas, ca. 1476, Paris, Louvre

Benedetto da Maiano, intarsia, studiolo, Palazzo Ducale, Urbino

PSA: If you didn’t know that the term “ghetto” originally referred exclusively to walled Jewish quarters, where they were required to live by law, now you do.

The first ghetto was the Venetian Ghetto, set up officially in 1516. This was considered extremely tolerant and permissive, since the standard at the time was that Jews weren’t allowed to live anywhere, and if you saw a Jew after dark you were legally allowed to kill them. The establishment of the Ghetto meant that there was a safe space for Jews, who came to Venice fleeing the Inquisition (often on their way to points east, namely Poland and the Ottoman Empire.)

The more you know.



Ouchless Elven Ear Wraps. If you want something Whimsical yet subtle, these would be it! They conform exactly to any ear shape and are made in any of the above colors. These are a nice touch to add if you are going to any Renaissance, Fantasy, craft, or Anime Faire/Convention.


102 year old Harlem Renaissance Dancer, Alice Barker, Sees Herself on Film for the First Time

posted by Tenfresh

Alice Barker was a chorus line dancer during the Harlem Renaissance of the the 1930s and 40s. She danced at clubs such as The Apollo, Cotton Club, and Zanzibar Club, with legends including Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson.

Although she danced in numerous movies, commercials and TV shows, she had never seen any of them, and all of her photographs and memorabilia have been lost over the years.

With the help of Mark Cantor of http://jazz-on-film.com we finally our hands on three “Soundies” Alice appeared in, and were able to show them to her for the very first time. She had never seen herself in motion in her life!

If you’d like to send Alice fan mail we would love to see her get the adoration she deserves after so many years! (We’ll do our best to read some of your comments to her as well.):

Alice Barker
c/o Bishop Henry B. Hucles Episcopal Nursing Home
835 Herkimer Street
Brooklyn, NY11233

For more info about the dancers of the Harlem Renaissance, we recommend the lovely documentary “Been Rich All My Life” —several of the women in the film danced with Alice back in the day!