|Method||Copper engraved with hand colour|
|Published||Ioh. Blaeu excud. [Amsterdam, c. 1645]|
|Dimensions||380 x 500 mm|
A nice example of Blaeu's decorative map of the county of Oxfordshire, flanked with crests of the colleges, from volume four of the Atlas Major. The county Hundreds are outlined in hand colour, and the map is further embellished by a number of decorative cartouches. At bottom centre, the map's title is enclosed in a large baroque armorial flanked by a pair of black-robed academics. The map, though copied from Speed, is magnificently produced with beautiful colouring, fine engraving and superb paper. The spaciousness and clarity forms a distinctive contrast to the busyness of the better known map by Speed. The verso features explanatory Spanish text about the county, city, and university, as well as an engraving of the Rollright Stones.
Willem Blaeu 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 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. 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.
Condition: Central vertical fold, as issued. Chips and small loses to margins and top of central fold, not affecting map or plate. Insect damage to sheet. Two punctures near crest of Brasenose infilled. Professionally backed with archival tissue.