Between the 16th and 19th centuries, European cartography experienced an accelerated period of evolution that mirrored parallel movements in art and architecture as well as the changing trajectory of natural philosophy.
The Renaissance ideal of rebuilding the European episteme on a foundation of reason and objectivity is especially evident during this period. Within cartography this can be charted through the adoption of Cartesian mathematics, the innovative drafting techniques employed and the reformation of ornamentation. In the following we will be concerned with the latter as these may be the clearest landmarks by which to navigate. Specifically, we will be focusing on the cartouche, or the ornamentation surrounding a map’s title or key.