Nova Orbis Tabula, in Lucem Edita, A. F. De Wit

Method Copper engraved with hand colour
Artist de Wit, Frederick
Published Amstelodami cum Privilegio Potentiss D. Dominorum Ordinum Hollandiae et Westfrisiae. [Amsterdam, c.1688]
Dimensions 475 x 565 mm
Notes A beautiful and highly decorative map of the world in two hemispheres. The map features the 'Old World' - Europe, Asia, and Africa - as well as most of Australasia in the right hemisphere, while the left is occupied by the Americas and a collection of islands and coastlines in the Pacific including New Guinea, New Zealand, and the island of Iedso (Hokkaido - formerly Yeso), though the rest of Japan is shown on the extreme right of the opposite hemisphere. The various regions and territories of the globe are outlined in beautiful hand colour, and numerous placenames, rivers, mountain ranges, and other geographic features populate the map. California is shown as an island, and the northwestern coast of North America is blank, as is the entire eastern coast of Australia. Antarctica is entirely absent, mentioned only as the label 'Australia Incognita' in the semicircular range of graticules at the base of each hemisphere. A pair of smaller hemispheres between the larger roundels show the poles, with only partial coastlines mapped in the Arctic circle and nothing south of Tierra del Fuego included at the southern pole. The triangles between the spheres are populated by cherubs, while the remaining space between the hemispheres and the border are filled with beautiful allegorical scenes representing the seasons and their corresponding zodiacal signs. In the top left, Spring leads a joyous train of winged cherubs carrying garlands. One rides the ram Aries, while another pair hold the reigns of the sacrificial bull Taurus. The twin Gemini can be seen embracing in the background. To top right, the harvest is directed by the personification of Summer with her crown of wheat. Virgo rests by a lake, Leo is led on a rope, and a cherub flying above the scene brandishes a limp lobster-like Cancer. Bacchus in mid tipple heads up a ribald vintage for Autumn, with a group of ivy-crowned cherubs carrying the scales of Libra and a Scorpio by the tail, while Sagitarrius teaches another cherub to fire his bow in the distance. The final scene features a robed and sceptred king, possibly Saturn, struggling against the wind, cold, and dark. A robed cherub in the guise of Aquarius pours water into a large basin from a pair of urns, while his fellow holds aloft a pair of fish, Pisces, on a rod. Poor Capricorn the goat is pulled by the horns and whipped by another pair of putti.

The current example is a variant of de Wit's terrestrial world map of 1670, and was most likely printed from a new plate prepared in 1680 to update cartographic knowledge in the Pacific and the Americas particularly. Unlike the earlier 1670 map, this example features 'Nova Guinea' and 'Quiri Regio' above the partial coastline of New Zealand, California has been given a rounded rather than flat top, the Straits of Anian have been removed, and the Great Lakes are beginning to take on more of an individual form. The imprimatur below the title indicates the map was published after 1688, when de Wit was given his Privilege by Holland and Westfrisia.

Frederick de Wit (1630-1706) was a Dutch geographer, and one of the most prolific and successful cartographic printers of the late seventeenth century, following the dominance of the Blaeu and Hondius publishing houses. His major achievement was his Atlas, which began appearing from around 1662, and continued in almost constant publication until the mid eighteenth century, first by de Wit himself, and after his death, by successors such as Ottens, Pierre Mortier, and Mortier's son Cornelis in partnership with Johannes Covens.

Shirley 499 (State 2)

Condition: Central vertical fold, as issued. Time toning to sheet. Small chips, tears, and wear to margins. Verdigris from old colour and dirt staining to verso.
Framing mounted
Price £3,500.00
Stock ID 50213

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