Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci died 22 February 1512 at the age of 57 in Seville Spain. A pioneering spirit who played a crucial role in the discovery of what would become known as the New World, Vespucci became the namesake for “America.”
Born in Florence in 1454, Vespucci began his career in his mid-twenties as a clerk within the Medici household. As his acumen progressed, and as the Medici grew increasingly confident in the young man’s abilities, Vespucci began work as a liaison for Medici entities in Spain.
His expeditions to the New World, the first of which commenced in 1497, were not at the behest of the Medici, though, but rather were owed to the royal courts of Portugal and Spain. Indeed, thanks to the success of his four expeditions, that Spanish King Ferdinand made Vespucci the country’s chief navigator in 1508, a position he held until his death several years later.
Gaetano Grazzini, Amerigo Vespucci. Galleria degli Uffizi, (exterior), Florence.
Jan Galle, after Jan van der Street, Americae Retectio (Allegory of America), 1615; engraving published in Speculum diuersarum imagine speculatiuarum (1638).
Posthumous portrait of Amerigo Vespucci (possibly Cristofano dell’Altissimo?), c. 1568. Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence.