Over the course of his lifetime, Joseph Jacinto Mora produced illustrated maps like the Renaissance Man of the West and packed them with history, geography and personal details. Most of the series of maps showed different parts of California and told stories to people. He lovingly illustrated streets, landmasses and town dogs during the era including a compass rose.
On the pictorial map, Mora has included streets that were full of small houses with both land and sea populated by busy people. The compass rose is rotated 90 degrees counterclockwise which is befitting of an artist’s town. His maps will bring you back to his era and show you how he views the world.
In final form, Mora’s illustrated maps were considered flamboyant and dense and send out an impression of near limitless details. According to Peter Hiller, the Collection Curator of the Jo Mora Trust, his maps are like books. You look at a certain part and set the book aside for a while. The next day, you come back to see a different part. The maps are similar to magnets that attract people to look at them.
Most refer to Mora’s maps as “cartes” but in terms of style, they belong to the genre called pictorial maps. Pictorial maps are detailed geographical illustrations that tell a story. These maps have become popular because they are used to promote travel destinations or depict certain events.
Mora’s sensibility and experience are very apparent in the pictorial maps. Even when he was working on a particular genre, Mora’s obsessions and personal values stood out. According to Mora himself, he renders his message in a humorous manner so that viewers will look at it with a smile of understanding instead of a frown of research. The kind of close reading that the maps demand will allow you to fully understand the era.
Surprisingly, the artistic and creative pictorial maps that were popular centuries ago are still being used today. Businesses, towns, campuses and cities have their own illustrated maps to create interest among people to visit the place. The illustrated map presents a certain area through color, style and informative details.