BLAEU, Willem (1571-1638). Nova Totius Terrarum Orbis Geographia Ac Hydrographia Tabula. Amsterdam: William Blaeu, [ca 1630].
Single sheet, float mounted and framed (16 x 21 to the neat line, full margins showing the platemark). Fine engraved map of the world surrounded by vignettes of planets, the elements, the seasons, and the seven wonders of the ancient world, all with original hand-colour in full.
A LANDMARK MAP OF THE WORLD BY THE MOST CELEBRATED MAPMAKER OF THE 17TH CENTURY
Using Mercator's projection and first issued in 1606, this fine map remained in active circulation, for over 50 years. It is celebrated as one of the supreme examples of the mapmaker's art and in this issue, the fourth, was published in his "Atlas" from 1630 onwards. Showing both "Beach" and New Guinea as peninsulas of the great south land Terra Australis.
The most striking characteristics of Blaeu's map are the superb border decorations. Along the top are allegorical representations of the sun and moon and the five known planets, while each side has four panels illustrating the elements and the four seasons, and along the bottom are seven vignettes showing the seven wonders of the ancient world. Blaeu maps are immediately recognizable by the beauty of their ornamentation. Whereas 16th century publishers had decorated their maps with strapwork designs in black and white, Blaeu's maps were embellished with decorative swags, symbols, coats of arms, city views and large pictorial cartouches, and were handcolored in the Baroque taste.
As official cartographer to the Dutch East India Company, Blaeu had access to information regarding geographical discoveries that was unavailable to any of his competitors. Blaeu published his first world atlas, the "Atlantis Appendix", with 60 maps in 1630, and continued to produce new maps at such a rate that by 1634, he abandoned the single volume format and announced his intention to publish a new world atlas, entitled the "Theatrum", which became the most monumental cartographic publication of the 17th century. The acclaim that Blaeu's maps receive is based upon their extremely high production standards and geographical sophistication. The splendid side decoration is one of Blaeu's most recognizable decorative flourishes, and the quality of the engraving, the paper, and coloring are of the highest order, placing Blaeu's work at the forefront of seventeenth-century cartography. The maps are embellished in the Baroque style, and many - especially the world map, the centerpiece of the atlas - rank among the most beautiful ever made. Shirley 255.