Monumental Map of the Lower Dniepr River
Striking 2-sheet map of the Dniepr River, engraved by Hessel Gerritsz.
The map was originally issued as the eastern part of Blaeu's 6-sheet wall map of Lithuania. The map shows the course of the Dnieper River from Cherkasy to the estuary on the Black Sea. The map is in strip style with two vertical maps following the course of the river, each decorated with cartouches and compass roses and including numerous lengthy notations describing the cataracts, cities, salt mines, fortresses, and the historical traditions of the Kozaks. Putti flank a large cartouche at bottom.
This map is based on an inset map from the important Radziwill-Makowski map of the Duchy of Lithuania (1613). The map was engraved by Hessel Gerritsz from original drafts prepared under the instructions of Prince Nicolas Christophe Radziwill, and first issued in 1613 by Willem Blaeu, under his original imprint by Guilhelmus Janssonis. This is one of the earliest maps published by Blaeu, who did not incorporate this map into an atlas until approximately 1630.
The Radziwill map is one of the most important works of European cartography from the end of the 16th and the beginning of the 17th century and is an important contribution to the progress in the mapping of the whole continent. The map had its beginning in 1586 when Prince Michael Radziwill commissioned M.Strubicz to survey the entire Lithuanian state which then included Poland. Strubicz's map was so accurate and detailed that it provided the basis for all subsequent maps of the area during the 17th and 18th centuries. In addition to the usual topographical details, there is considerable historical information also provided.
Willem Janszoon Blaeu (1571-1638) was a prominent Dutch geographer and publisher. Born the son of a herring merchant, Blaeu chose not fish but mathematics and astronomy for his focus. He studied with the famous Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe, with whom he honed his instrument and globe making skills. Blaeu set up shop in Amsterdam, where he sold instruments and globes, published maps, and edited the works of intellectuals like Descartes and Hugo Grotius. In 1635, he released his atlas, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, sive, Atlas novus.
Willem died in 1638. He had two sons, Cornelis (1610-1648) and Joan (1596-1673). Joan trained as a lawyer, but joined his father’s business rather than practice. After his father’s death, the brothers took over their father’s shop and Joan took on his work as hydrographer to the Dutch East India Company. Later in life, Joan would modify and greatly expand his father’s Atlas novus, eventually releasing his masterpiece, the Atlas maior, between 1662 and 1672.