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>>Any chance some older illuminated maps may actually have "map cats" on >>them?
Dears J. Florey, Cheri Brooks, John Weiss, John Doktor 'et all':
The best image I know of a cat in a map (in fact, a big cat... since it is a fierce and colorful lion, depicted among peach-trees, in Persia...) is included as one of the illuminations made by the miniaturist-painter Antonio de Holanda in one of the folios (the folio with the Indian Ocean, India, Arabia and Persia) in the so-called 'Atlas Miller', the famous collection of portolan-charts nowadays kept in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris.
These wonderful charts (now separate, but in the past certainly constituting a manuscript atlas) were made in c.1519 by the cartographers Lopo Homem, Pedro Reinel and Jorge Reinel, and illuminated by the miniaturist Antonio de Holanda, at that time probably to be offered by the Portuguese to the King of France.
A colour image of the whole folio with the Indian Ocean can be found in:
CORTESÃO, Armando; MOTA, A. Teixeira da, Portugaliae Monumenta Cartographica, Lisbon, 1960 (facsim. reed. with an introduction and supplement by Alfredo Pinheiro Marques, Lisbon, Imprensa Nacional-Casa da Moeda, 1987 ), vol. I, plate 19.
A large detail with the amplified image of the colourful lion can be found in my book:
MARQUES, Alfredo Pinheiro, A Cartografia Portuguesa e a Construção da Imagem do Mundo - La Cartographie Portugaise et la Construction de l`Image du Monde - Portuguese Cartography and the Making of the World Picture (Lisbon: Imprensa Nacional-Casa da Moeda, 1991). The detail is in page 38 and the whole chart is in page 83.
On the identification of the painter-miniaturist Antonio de Holanda, responsible for the illuminations of the 'Atlas Miller', see my article:
MARQUES, Alfredo Pinheiro, "L'Atlas Miller: un Problème Résolu. Histoire de l'Art dans la Cartographie Portugaise", Revue de la Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris: Bibliothèque Nationale, 1994 (4), 53-57.
(the identification had been previously made in my paper "The 'Atlas Miller': a Problem Solved. Art in Portuguese Cartography", read in the 15th International Conference on the History of Cartography, Chicago,1993, organized by the Newberry Library)
With best wishes
Alfredo Pinheiro Marques