Nicolaes Visscher II (1649-1702)S.R.I. Sueviae Circulus atq. Ducatus una cum Inserts et Adjacentibus Regionibus, accuratissime in earundem particulares Provincias divisum per Nicolaus Visscher Amst.Bat. cum Privil. Ord. General. Belgii Foederati

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Nicolaes Visscher II (1649-1702)

S.R.I. Sueviae Circulus atq. Ducatus una cum Inserts et Adjacentibus Regionibus, accuratissime in earundem particulares Provincias divisum per Nicolaus Visscher Amst.Bat. cum Privil. Ord. General. Belgii Foederati

Addressed as a “Master Colorist” or “Meester Afsetter” on his own funeral invitation - preserved at the University Library of Amsterdam - Dirk Jansz van Santen is one of the most important figures in the history of Dutch printmaking. Whereas many colorists remain unrecorded, van Santen’s name is found as early as 1684 to promote the outstanding quality of auction lots and
The present map of Swabia, printed by Nicolaes Visscher II, was ascribed to the great artist on stylistic grounds and Truusie Goedings in her 1992 survey corroborates these findings by relating its provenance to a 1714 auction in Amsterdam; the catalogue lists an Atlas minor that could be identical with the composite atlas that the “S.R.I. Sueviae Circulus” was taken from: The catalog records it as being “ongemeen konstig en met goud doorwrogt afgezet van den
vermaerden Dirk Jansz van Zanten (Incredibly artful and lavishly decorated with gold by the famous Dirk Jansz van Santen).” The owner was a certain Willem van Beest who became the master colorist’s employer after the death of Laurens van der Hem in 1678.

Titled “S.R.I. Sueviae Circulus” the map shows the German States between Mannheim and Heidelberg in the North and Kempten in the South. It also includes Lake Zurich and parts of Switzerland. The designation “Circulus” refers to the division of the German Reich into Circles or “Reichskreise”. To facilitate jurisdiction they were created at the instigation of Maximilian I at the Diet of Augsburg in 1500 and the Swabian one was originally known as Circle Number 3. The Old Swiss Confederacy, however, was considered an unencircled territory or “kreisfreies Gebiet”.

The map bears the Privilege - “cum Privil. Ord. General. Belgii Foederati” - and can be dated around 1700. Nicolaes Visscher II had applied to the States of Holland and West-Friesland for a patent that was granted in 1697. This period also coincides with van Santen’s artistic maturity. It features lavish gold decoration, as well as the use of gum arabic to heighten the cartouche’s
texture. The color scheme displays an impressionistic touch that, in the coat-of-arms and clothing details, reveals an advanced degree of artistic autonomy. The marbling pattern is especially noteworthy. “S.R.I. Sueviae Circulus” is exceptionally well preserved and it retains full margins, as well as the original mounting guard on the verso.

Nicolaes Visscher II (1649-1702) was the grandson of Claes Jansz Visscher who had established the eponymous publishing house by branding the Visschers’ name in the highly competitive environment of Amsterdam printmaking. He used fishermen as an ideogram and clever allusion to the city’s alleged foundation by sailors and fish merchants. Similarly, the Visscher headquarters on Kalverstraat were consistently referred to as “in the Visscher” as they became synonymous with the family’s multi-generation enterprise. Their artistry was repeatedly rewarded with the so-called Privilege, a precursor to modern-day copyright and distinction to the publishing trade.
Dirk Jansz van Santen (1637/38-1708) is considered to be the preeminent colorist of the Dutch Golden Age. Together with Frans Koerten and David Reerigh he dominated the industry known as “versiering”, that is the  embellishment of maps and prints through graphic elements and coloring. The lavish use of “shell gold” is characteristic of his later years, as well as the artistic
license employed in coloring the cartouches and in-map decorations. His work has been compared with both impressionistic techniques and the varnish-like chiaroscuro effect of Baroque painters. Van Santen-colored atlases are preserved in international collections such as the Hofbibliothek in Vienna or the University Library of Amsterdam.
Goedings, Truusje: “A composite atlas colored by Dirk Jansz. van Santen”, Geldrop 1992.
Koeman, Cornelius: “Atlantes Neerlandici: Bibliography of terrestrial, maritime and celestial atlases and pilot books, published in the Netherlands up to 1880”, Amsterdam 1967-1985.
Leefland, Huigen: “The sign of Claes Jansz Visscher and his progeny: The history and significance of a brand name”, in: The Rijksmuseum Bulletin 62 (2014), pp. 240-269.