André Thévet

La Cosmographie Universelle



Andre Thevet was educated in the Franciscan monastery of Angoulême and then attended university in both Poitiers and Paris. He served as a chaplain to Catherine de Medici, Royal Cosmographer to three French Kings and was keeper of the Royal Cabinet of Curiosities at Fontainebleau, in addition to amassing his own array of maps and curiosities. He is perhaps best known for La Cosmographie Universelle, which was published in Paris in 1575 with over two-hundred wood-cuts and thirty-five maps.

La Cosmographie Universelle, a description of the World and the Heavens was criticised by many Renaissance Humanists for its heavily embellished fantasy and lack of direction as a publication. Thevet’s knowledge came from his travels, unlike the writings of his critics, his work was born from experience. He deliberately distanced himself from the academic geographers and writers of the period, and instead associated with the great explorers and chart makers of the time. This was further cause of consternation amongst his humanist peers who believed that Thevet had renounced the collected wisdom of the ages, and more importantly, God;  Thevet narrowly escaped a charge of heresy for his work on La Cosmographie

Below are a few examples from this collection. Please click on an image to see it in high-resolution with details of the work itself. For the full list of original antique Thevet wood cuts, please do contact us.