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An Unrecorded Wall Map of the World from the Golden Age of Dutch Cartography.

Finely preserved and previously unknown 4-sheet double hemisphere map of the World, intended to be displayed by a 17th Century Aristocrat.

In the 17th Century, at the height of the Golden Age of Dutch Cartography, Dutch published wall maps became an important decorating statement for aristocrats and wealthy traders in Western Europe. Artists such as Jan Vermeer captured the importance of these wall maps as objects of art in a number of his most famous paintings, such as his The Art of Painting :

Among the most important of the late 17th Century mapmakers was Frederick De Wit of Amsterdam. De Wit continued the tradition of remarkable wall maps by Willem Blaeu, Nicholas Visscher and others, including several wall maps of the world in 4, 8 and 12 sheets, many of which would be copied and re-issued by the great Italian mapmakers of the late 17th Century, including Stefano Scholar, Pietro Todeschi and Guiseppe Longhi.

Because of the size of these maps and use as objects of art, to be displayed prominently in the homes of the wealthy and ruling elite of Europe, very few examples of these maps have survived until modern times and when such maps survive, they are most typically in poor condition or heavily restored. In modern times, such 17th Century wall maps are highly coveted:

The present map is an unrecorded variant of one of Frederick De Wit's multi-sheet masterpieces, published by Gerard Valk, one of the leading map publishers and engravers in Amsterdam at the end of the 17th Century. Known primarily for fine engraving and high artistic quality, Valk's work is among the finest from the latter part of the Golden Age of Dutch Cartography.

The map consists of a twin hemisphere world map, together with two polar projections. Surrounding the map are personifications of the four seasons (from upper left to lower right): spring, a dancing bear breasted Persephone is garlanded with spring flowers; summer, Ceres brings in the wheat harvest; autumn, Dionysus accompanied by satyrs and cherubs, collects the grape harvest, and adorn a herm with vines; winter, represented by strong man carrying a stick, Boreas the north wind can be seen blowing, whilst cherubs gut fish.

The map is based upon Frederick de Wit's terrestrial world map executed in about 1670-1680 (Shirley 451). This magnificent map must have been published between 1690 and 1700, as the imprint which appears on the pedestal of the garlanded herm in the lower left plainly gives the place as 'op d'Dam inde Wackeren hont.' Gerard Valck and his family moved into this house (where the Hondius family had previously lived) in about 1690. A latest possible date of approximately 1700 is provided by a variant of this map which includes the name of Leonardus, Gerard's son, and, although smaller, contains new details such as the supposed Mer Glaciale in northernmost America (Shirley 638). Both this later map, an earlier Valck world map (Shirley 531 & 532, giving incorrect date of c.1686).

Rodney Shirley opined that Valck's world maps were based on Jaillot's influential Mappe-Monde of 1674, but in fact all three bear a much closer relationship to De Wit's map. The present map shares many of De Wit's cartographic elements, particularly in the polar projections; but there are also numerous differences, some partly explained by this Valck map being on a larger scale than the original De Wit map, allowing greater detail and decoration. For instance, the gap between the words 'America' and 'Meridio' in Brazil are now decoratively filled with a native village and a battle scene; in other areas, such as the outline of the coast of New Zealand, the toponyms are engraved quite differently. The north-eastern coastline of Asia in the present work also bears a closer resemblance to the 1666 world map of Jan van Loon (Shirley 439).

The present example is a remarkable survival, especially in such magnificent condition. The condition is, without question, the finest we have ever seen for a multi-sheet wall map of the 17th Century.

Condition Description
Four sheets, joined and mounted on linen.
C.f. Shirely 451 for De Wit example.
Frederick De Wit Biography

De Wit (1629 ca.-1706) was a mapmaker and mapseller who was born in Gouda but who worked and died in Amsterdam. He moved to the city in 1648, where he opened a printing operation under the name of The Three Crabs; later, he changed the name of his shop to The White Chart. From the 1660s onward, he published atlases with a variety of maps; he is best known for these atlases and his Dutch town maps. After Frederik’s death in 1706, his wife Maria ran the shop for four years before selling it. Their son, Franciscus, was a stockfish merchant and had no interest in the map shop. At the auction to liquidate the de Wit stock, most of the plates went to Pieter Mortier, whose firm eventually became Covens & Mortier, one of the biggest cartography houses of the eighteenth century.

Gerard Valk Biography

Gerard Valk, or Gerrit Leendertsz Valck (1652-1726) together with his son Leonard, were the only significant publishers of globes in the Netherlands in the eighteenth century, enjoying an almost total monopoly in the first half of the 1700's. Initially an engraver and art dealer, and having worked for map-sellers Christopher Browne and David Loggan in London between 1672 and 1679, Valk established the firm in Amsterdam in 1687. Initially, they published maps and atlases, but in 1700 the company moved the shop to the building previously occupied by map and globe-maker Jodocus Hondius. In 1701, he applied for a charter for making globes and the "Planetolabium", designed by Lotharius Zumbach de Coesfelt (1661-1727), an astronomy lecturer at Leiden University. The Valks produced several editions of 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18 and 24-inch diameter terrestrial and celestial globes. The cartography, as stated on the cartouche, is based closely on the celestial atlas Uranographia, published in 1687 by the celebrated Polish astronomer Johannes Hevelius (1611-1687).

Around 1711, when he became a member of the bookseller's guild, Leonard Valk (1675-1746) came into partnership and his name started to appear alongside that of his father on the cartouches of the globes, although the earliest of these, both terrestrial and celestial, still bear the date 1700. Leonard naturally took over the business on his father's death in 1726, and following his own death in 1746 the firm was run by Maria Valk, cousin, and wife to Gerard. By then its days of glory had passed. Leonard Valk died in relative poverty: his wife had to take in the washing of their aunt to make ends meet. The late eighteenth century saw a number of successful reissues by publisher Cornelis Covens (1764-1825), who ran the famous cartographical publishing house of Covens & Mortier (1721-1866) in Amsterdam. This firm was the biggest Dutch one for publishing maps in the 18th century. It was located on the Vijgendam (Fig Dam), the southern part of what is now Dam Square, the central hub of the city. They didn't move out of their building, but they did change addresses. At first in 1795 the whole Dam was rebaptized into Revolution Square, then it got the name Napoleon Square, till in 1813 after Napoleon's fall Covens & Mortier were back again at the Vijgendam.