Rare full color example of Jan Baptiste Vrients' map of England and Wales, Anglia, Regnum si quod aliud in toto Oceano ditissimum et florentissimum, published in Antwerp in 1603. This very handsome work is based on Christopher Saxton's pioneering survey of England and Wales, and is one of the rarest maps to appear in the editions of Ortelius' great atlas, the Theatrum.
In the 1570s, Lord Burghley, the chief minister to Queen Elizabeth I, commissioned Christopher Saxton to conduct the first systematic survey of each of the counties of England and Wales. The result was the publication of Saxton's magnificent Atlas of England and Wales (1579), which included his groundbreaking national map Anglia. It took some time for the leading Continental map publishers to recognize the superior nature of Saxton's work. Most notably, the great Abraham Ortelius continued to rely on Humphrey Lhuyd's outdated map as the basis for the maps of England in Wales published in the mutliple editions of the Theatrum. Following Ortelius' death in 1598, the production of the Theatrum was taken up by Jan Baptiste Vrients, who was determined to improve upon the quality of the engraving and to add new maps based on the most progressive sources.
Vrients commissioned Pieter van den Keere, perhaps the finest map engraver of the period, to cut the plates for the present map of England and Wales. A dramatic improvement over Ortelius' Lhuyd map, Saxton's geography was so progressive that it remained the basic template for all the general maps of England and Wales printed until well into the eighteenth-century. In spite of the impressive nature of Vrients and Van den Keere's efforts, the map made only rare appearances in select editions of the Theatrum, published between 1603 and Vrients' death in 1612. Dr. Marcel van den Broecke, the foremost authority on the Theatrum, estimates that less that 400 examples of the present map were ever printed. This factor, combined with the low survival rate of maps from the period, accounts for the great rarity of Vrients' Anglia, Regnum today.
The present example of the map is especially fine, with resplendent full original color and a strong dark engraving impression. A masterpiece of late mannerist design, England and Wales appear in a golden yellow hue, punctuated by the nation's market towns, heightened in a brilliant red, and the royal forests, which are accented in green. A magnificent architectural strapwork cartouche, featuring putti and satyrs occupies the upper-right of the map, while to the west, covering Ireland, are the royal arms of England and a strapwork cartouche paying tribute to Christopher Saxton. Figuratively commemorating the attack of the Spanish Armada (1588), an intense naval battle is depicted in the lower-left.
Vrients' Anglia, Regnum is one of the rarest Ortelius atlas maps, and a highly important early map of England and Wales. This is the first example we have offered in our nearly 20 years in business.