Magazine article Geographical

Dutch Brothers Bring Myths to Maps. Continuing Our Series, Map Expert Jonathan Potter Discusses One Particularly Elegant Map of Europe. (Map of the Month)

Magazine article Geographical

Dutch Brothers Bring Myths to Maps. Continuing Our Series, Map Expert Jonathan Potter Discusses One Particularly Elegant Map of Europe. (Map of the Month)

Article excerpt

ONE OF THE GREATEST CARTOGRAPHIC PUBLICATIONS OF ANY PERIOD IS THE ATLAS MAJOR, published by the Blaeu brothers, Joan and Willem, in Amsterdam from 1662 to 1672. The work was produced in editions of as many as 12 volumes in Latin, French, Dutch, German and Spanish, and comprised around 600 elegantly designed and finely engraved maps of all areas of the known world. It was one of the largest and most sumptuous publishing ventures of the period, and was deemed of such prestige it was presented to numerous foreign dignitaries on behalf of Dutch Embassies and trade delegations. The work of the Blaeu family is regarded as a highlight in a period of great Dutch prosperity and artistic flowering.

This map of Europe is one of a set showing each continent, and was created in the second decade of the 17th century by the founder of the family business, Willem Janszoon. Janszoon was an instrument, chart, globe and map-maker whose first atlas -- or collection of land maps, as opposed to sea charts -- appeared as the Atlantis Appendix in 1630. Comprising 60 maps, mostly copperplates purchased from his competitor Hondius, the atlas evolved over eight years into a two-volume publication of some 200 maps. …

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