Wolfgangus Lazius is the Latinized name of Wolfgang Laz (1514–65), an Austrian humanist, historian, cartographer, and physician who produced the first set of maps of the hereditary lands of the Austrian crown. Lazius was professor of medicine on the faculty of the University of Vienna, where he was several times dean and rector. Emperor Ferdinand I appointed him his personal physician, historiographer, and adviser, as well as curator of the imperial collections. Like many 16th century scholars trained in the sciences, Lazius was drawn to the emerging art of cartography. He undertook scientific and geographic expeditions throughout the empire, gathering data for his maps, which he personally drew and engraved. Shown here is Lazius’s self-made bookplate, which features a skull with a label and text below, a coat of arms, and sketches of books and maps produced by Lazius, including Chorographia Austriae (or Typi Chorografici Provinciarum Austriae). Lazius’s chorography (from the Greek choros meaning “country” and grapho meaning “write”) is considered the oldest atlas of Austria. It was published in Vienna in 1561, indicating that the bookplate was designed some time after that. The etching is printed on waste paper. The back side shows a fragment of a map of Greece made by Lazius.

Last updated: February 12, 2015