Nice example of Van Keulen's rare early Sea Chart of Brazil, the West Coast of Africa and the South Atlantic Ocean, first published by Johannes Van Keulen in 1680.
This is the very rare early Van Keulen chart of the South Atlantic, which appeared between 1680 and 1683. It did not appear in Van Keulen's 5 part Zee Fakkel, which was first published in 1684.
Van Keulen's chart is centered on the South Atlantic Ocean, and embraces the entire coastlines of Brazil and Uruguay, extending as far south as Buenos Aires on the Río de la Plata. In Africa, it depicts the entire littoral running from Senegal down to the Cape of Good Hope. Various stretches of the shorelines are distinguished in attractive color, while the seas are traversed by rhumb lines. The title cartouche includes the figure of Neptune riding a hippocampus and mermen supporting a picture of a battle scene.
The present chart was published as part of Van Keulen's great sea atlas, the Zee-Fakkel, and would have been of considerable interest during its time, as this section of the Atlantic was an important transport corridor for the Asiatic trade. Ships would sail from Europe down near the western tip of Africa, before swinging out to sea to take advantage of the currents, before re-approaching Africa near the Cape of Good Hope, and then continuing into the Indian Ocean on their way to the East Indies.
The shorelines of both Africa and South America are depicted with impressive accuracy for the time, owing to the sophisticated appreciation of the geography acquired by Dutch mariners. The portrayal of Brazil is derived from the maps, most notably those by Caspar Barleaus, commissioned by the Dutch West India Company (the WIC) during its occupation of northern Brazil from 1630 to 1654. The WIC also acquired extensive knowledge of West Africa owing to its trading activities along those coasts. Meanwhile the Dutch East India Company (the VOC) had a great interest in South Africa since it founded Cape Town in 1652.
Johannes van Keulen (1654-1715) was the most important publisher of sea charts during the late 17th-century. In 1678, he founded a publishing house in Amsterdam, which he named 'In de Gekroonde Lootsman' ('In the Crowned Pilot'). In 1680, he obtained a privilege for publishing sea charts from the States of Holland and West Friesland. With the assistance of the cartographer Claes Jansz Vooght and the engraver Jan Luyken, Van Keulen published the Nieuwe Lichtende Zee-Fakkel (meaning 'Sea-Torch' in English), issued in 5 volumes from 1681 to 1684. Van Keulen's charts proved to be highly popular, and subsequent editions were issued by three generations of his descendants.