Fascinating example of what purports to be the second earliest printed view of New York City.
The present example is printed on paper which does not appear to be 17th Century and the quality of the printing and other details strongly suggest that this example was made to deceive, perhaps in the late 19th or early 20th Century.
This view shows the southern tip of Manhattan, then New Amsterdam, as it appeared during the period of Dutch control of the City. The view is most accurately dated based upon the building on the far left, built around April of 1652, and the lack of any protective walls, which were built in 1653.
The view is most likely drawn from a painting attributed to Augustin Hermann, a cartographer and illustrator of Bohemian descent who settled in New York (New Amsterdam) in the 1640s and whose map of the Chesapeake region is among the holy grails for regional collectors.
It is believed that Blaeu engraved and published the view independently as Nieuw Amsterdam op t eyland Manhatttans around 1653. It was later incorporated by Nicholas Visscher in his map of New England in 1655.
On close examination, we have concluded that this example is most likely not an original 17th Century view, but a more modern production. There is no plate mark and certain flaws in the image suggest a later creation date.
Joan, or Johannes, Blaeu (1596-1673) was the son of Willem Janszoon Blaeu. He inherited his father’s meticulous and striking mapmaking style and continued the Blaeu workshop until it burned in 1672. Initially, Joan trained as a lawyer, but he decided to join his father’s business rather than practice.
After his father’s death in 1638, Joan and his brother, Cornelis, took over their father’s shop and Joan took on his work as hydrographer to the Dutch East India Company. Joan brought out many important works, including Nova et Accuratissima Terrarum Orbis Tabula, a world map to commemorate the Peace of Westphalia which brought news of Abel Tasman’s voyages in the Pacific to the attention of Europe. This map was used as a template for the world map set in the floor of the Amsterdam Town Hall, the Groote Burger-Zaal, in 1655.
Joan also modified and greatly expanded his father’s Atlas novus, first published in 1635. All the while, Joan was honing his own atlas. He published the Atlas maior between 1662 and 1672. It is one of the most sought-after atlases by collectors and institutions today due to the attention to the detail, quality, and beauty of the maps. He is also known for his town plans and wall maps of the continents. Joan’s productivity slammed to a halt in 1672, when a fire completely destroyed his workshop and stock. Joan died a year later and is buried in the Westerkerk in Amsterdam.