Maps of the Human Heart

Heart-shaped maps are one thing, but maps of the human heart are quite another, and I’ve got both on this Valentine’s Day.  The charting of emotional territory, as opposed to physical space, has resulted in the production of several interesting maps from the seventeenth century to the near-present.  Below are the companion Map of the Open Country of a Woman’s Heart and Map of the Fortified Country of a Man’s Heart, ostensibly and anonymously drawn “by a lady” and published by the Kellogg Brothers of Hartford, Connecticut in the 1830s.  These heart maps, along with lots of other examples of the Kellogg’s impressive lithography, can be viewed at the online gallery of the Connecticut Historical Society and Museum.

I’ve brightened and cropped both maps so that you can better see the different regions that make up these human hearts. It’s very interesting that the woman’s heart is an “open” country while the man’s is a walled fort.  Money seems to take up a lot of territory in the man’s heart while outward appearances dominate the woman’s; romance and sentiment take up space but love is referenced only with power, ease, eating, dress and admiration!  Matrimony is very clearly outside of the man’s heart (whereas the “citadel of self-love” is inside).

These heart maps seem to be fusing together two cartographical trends from the early modern era:  the cordiform map, in which actual places are displayed in a heart-shaped map, and allegorical maps, which use map formats but dispense with the places altogether in order to put forth the message, often in caricature.  The most famous world map with a cordiform projection, the Nova, et Universi Orbis Descriptio of Oronce Fine, was published in a succession of early modern atlases after its initial appearance in 1531.

As for the allegorical, two very sentimental maps were published in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries:  the carte de tendre, a road map to and through the country of “tenderness” first published in Madeleine de Scudery’s novel Clelie in 1654, and the “Empire of Love” map published by German typographer Johann Gottlob Immanuel Breitkopf in 1777.

The Carte de Tendre: beware of the “Lake of Indifference” and “Dangerous Sea”!

The Empire of Love:  proceeding from the “land of youth” at the bottom, northward to the “land of lust”, and then easterly to the “land of happy love” (hopefully).

Even after the turn of the twentieth century, emotional maps continued to be published in various formats.  I found a Brazilian postcard from 1904 in a collector’s forum along with a locally-made map of “Loveland”  in the collection of the Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library (part of their ongoing exhibition of “unconventional maps”), and two heart maps that are clearly based on the Kellogg prints which were first published in McCall’s Magazine in 1960 and reprinted in the fascinating book by Katherine Harmon, You are Here:  Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination (Princeton Architectural Press, 2004).

A map of “Loveland” by Ernest Dudley Chase dating from 1943; it doesn’t scan very well, but a zoom feature is available at the BPL map site.  Lots of very 1940s-ish cartoon characters.

Geographical Guide to a Woman's Heart Emphasizing Points of Interest to the Romantic Traveler: illustration by Jo Lowrey for McCall' s Magazine, 1960

Geographical Guide to a Man's Heart with Obstacles and Entrances: illustration by Jo Lowrey for McCall's Magazine, 1960

Times and sentiments change; I think we’re about due for an updated map of the human heart.



145 responses to “Maps of the Human Heart

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