Maps representing the preference of neurons for the location and orientation of a stimulus on the visual field are a hallmark of primary visual cortex. It is not yet known how these maps develop and what function they play in visual processing. One hypothesis postulates that orientation maps are initially seeded by the spatial interference of ON- and OFF-center retinal receptive field mosaics. Here we show that such a mechanism predicts a link between the layout of orientation preferences around singularities of different signs and the cardinal axes of the retinotopic map. Moreover, we confirm the predicted relationship holds in tree shrew primary visual cortex. These findings provide additional support for the notion that spatially structured input from the retina may provide a blueprint for the early development of cortical maps and receptive fields. More broadly, it raises the possibility that spatially structured input from the periphery may shape the organization of primary sensory cortex of other modalities as well.