Archive for cartography

Blaeu’s Atlas Maior

Posted in Reviews, Useful with tags , , on March 11, 2009 by xugro

Joan (Johannes) Blaeu was a Dutch cartographer that produced one of the most beautiful atlases of the Baroque, the Atlas Maior. There were several editions of the atlas–the one I have, published by Taschen, dates from 1665. What’s interesting about mapmaking in the 17th century was the veritable explosion of geographical knowledge that fueled competition among mapmakers and printing presses. The one-upmanship and rampant copying and repackaging of plates from other atlases into a new one (like the Mercator atlas) is akin to a much more laborious and expensive Baroque version of blogging. Blaeu, for example, added Martini’s Atlas Sinensis [Atlas of China] as the sixth part of his own Atlas. The rate of map production and consumption was staggering:

One hundred years after the first modern atlas in history–Ortelius’ Theatrum with its 53 maps–the publication of volumes comprising maps and text had caught on to such an extent that a gigantic 12-part series including approximately 600 maps could become a commercial success. (Peter van der Krogt, “Introduction” 38-39)

Below are a few images from Blaeu’s atlas that I used in my dissertation defense.

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