Antonio Zatta

Antonio Zatta (1757-1797) was a prolific Venetian printer and the most prominent Italian map publisher of the late 18th and early 19th century. His firm, based in Venice, produced maps that mark an important transition from 18th to 19th century cartographic styles. He updates and redefines the traditional title cartouche by replacing the mythic elements common to the 17th and 18th century with more representative images. He maps also strive to keep many 18th century details, such as figural depictions on the map itself, while striving for the accuracy that a 19th century clientele demanded.

Zatta produced atlases containing attractive maps including groups of English counties. The engraving occasionally has a strange scratchy appearance, but the maps, and more particularly, the cartouches, have bright colour applied crudely but effectively. His two most famous works are Atlante Novissimo, four volumes, published in 1779 (some sources say from 1775 to 1785 or 1789), and Nuovo Atlante, done in 1799. Atlante Novissimo contained some 240 maps copperplate engraved by G. Pitteri, G.V. Pasquali, and G. Zuliani. There were 216 (or 218) full page engraved map sheets - 4 of the world, 25 of the Americas, 2 of Australia, and 5 of cosmographic tables. "In Vol. I were two celestial hemispheres centered on a north or south equatorial pole in folio size which was labeled Planisferio Celeste Settentrionale (or Meridionale...)

Copper engraving, in contemporary original color in outline.

Each used a polar stereographic projection with geocentric orientation. The plates measured 31 x 40.3 cm, and the hemispheres were 24 cm in diameter. In the corners were beautiful drawings of famous observatories: Pisa, Bologna, Padua, and Milan in the northern plate; and Paris, Greenwich, Cassel, and Copenhagen in the southern plate....Also included in this volume was a print labeled Mappa Dell'Universo that depicted the cosmologies of Ptolemy and Copernicus in two large 18.8-cm diameter diagrams." [Nick Kanas, per below]

Zatta's map of New Zealand was the first atlas map to show Cook's discoveries. His maps of Australia, New Zealand, parts of America, Bermuda, and the West Indies, arc particularly desirable.

From Francis Haskell's Patrons and painters - Art and Society in Baroque Italy, The Bath Press (Bath, 1980), p. 338-9:

"Antonio Zatta was also a controversial figure in the political field. He took a combative part in the storms that raged about the Jesuits, whose side he strongly opposed. This made him umpopular with the authorities, who were often antagonistic to the Society and who were at all times anxious to damp down any religious disputes. On two or three occasions Zatta actually ran into trouble with the Inquisition for proposing to publish attacks by the Jesuits on their principal enemies at home and abroad - the local Dominicans and the Portuguese government - and he himself was said by contemporaries to be a lay member of the Society.... He seems to have played little part in social life, and there are no traces of his activities in the writings of others. His own prefaces are usually vivid, and show him to have been a man of interprise, intelligent and sometime trenchant wit. He once mocked his enemies for finding Jesuits everywhere and parodied their pedantic efforts to give heavy symbolical interpretations to merely decorative ornament: the vignette on one of his books, writes an indignant "Segretario dell'Accademia dei Ccadubbj", must clearly be an attack on the Jesuits. It shows a fountain supported by a dolphin. The dolphin, which lures fish into nets, is treacherous and therefore represents the Jesuits, and the basin of water obviously depicts the accommodating nature of Venetian morals...

A glance at his catalogs show that Zatta was the most prolific publisher in eighteenth-century Venice. He did not promote illustrated books much before the second half of the century, but thereafter he ranged widely.. Apart from ceremonial pamphlets, his most important contributions lay in the elegant production of well-established Italian classics - Petrarch in 1756, Dante in 1757, and some years later Ariosto, Tasso and Metastasio. Zatta was indeed a passionate supporter of Dante when such views were unfashionable, and the illustrated edition that he sponsored was the first to appear in two centuries."


  • Image - http://www.kettererkunst.com/details-e.php?obnr=410802048&anummer=340
  • Text - Star maps: History, Artistry, and Cartography, by Nick Kanas, pg. 211.
  • Text - http://www.geographicus.com/P/AntiqueMap/zatta
  • Text -  http://www.collectorsmaps.co.uk/antoniozatta.asp
  • Image - http://www.ilab.org/db/detail.php?custnr=&booknr=342745099&source=&lang=ru&ref=/services/catalogues.php

Main Menu

This page compliments of Marisa Ciceran and Franko Pavicevac

Created: Saturday, February 10, 2001; Last updated: Saturday February 27, 2016
Copyright © 1998 IstriaNet.org, USA