|Method||Copper engraved with hand colour|
|Artist||Blaeu, Willem Janszoon|
|Dimensions||410 x 500 mm|
A large and decorative map of the East Indies, from the Blaeu Atlas Novus. The map covers most of the continent of Asia, stretching from Persia and India in the West to China and Japan in the East, though the focus is south-east Asia and the islands of modern day Indonesia and the Philippines. Borders of various regions and kingdoms are outlined in hand colour, and principal cities are picked out in red. West Papua is relatively well mapped, though most of Papua New Guinea is still shown as a blank. Australia is almost completely absent, excepting a small section of Eendrachtsland (modern Western Australia) and the east coast of the Cape York peninsula. The seas of the region are populated by sailing vessels, and a sea monster can be seen east of Sri Lanka and the Maldives. The map is crisscrossed by rhumb lines running from two compass roses. The title cartouche is supported by two figures in eastern dress, while the dedication to Laurens Real of the VOC is flanked by a female personification of Victory and a man in full plate armour. In the bottom right corner, a cadre of cherubs utilise various geographical implements above the scale in miles.
The Blaeu family were one of the most famous publishers of maps, globes and atlases during the seventeenth-century. Cartographers, globe makers and booksellers, the Blaeu business flourished in Amsterdam for over 40 years, until a fire destroyed their premises in 1672. They lost all of their plates, prints and stock, which effectively ruined the firm.
Willem Janzoon Blaeu (1571-1638) founded the family business in 1596. It initially functioned as a globe and instrument makers, but soon expanded into maps, topography and sea charts. The acquisition of thirty-eight copper plates from the estate of Jodocus Hondius in 162 together with twenty-two of his own maps enabled Blaeu to produce his first atlas, the 'Atlas Appendix' in 1630. The Atlas Novus was Willems great work; a major work which intended to include the most up-to-date maps of the entire world. He issued the first two volumes in 1635, but died in 1638 before the atlas was completed. The running of the business was passed on to his sons Johannes (c.1596-1673) and Cornelius, in addition to the role of the official cartographer of the East India Company. After the death of Cornelius in 1644, Johannes continued the business alone and established his own reputation as a great mapmaker. Johannes completed his father's grand project, culminating in 1658 in the production of the famous 'Atlas Major', regarded as one of the greatest achievements in the history of cartography. The county maps of England and Wales formed volume four of Blaeu's great atlas, this volume being first published in 1645 and re-issued without any alterations in 1662 as the fifth volume instead of the fourth.
Condition: Central vertical fold, as issued. Printers crease to centre of left margin, across southern India. Latin text on verso.