Blaeu's decorative map of Asia Minor, showing Turkey, Cyprus and the Islands in the Aegean.
This attractive map shows all of Turkey, Cyprus and the Aegean Islands to a relatively high degree of accuracy. At the time the entire region was under the rule of the Ottoman Empire (Cyprus was conquered in 1571 from the Venetians). A maritime battle scene, located in the seas to the west of Cyprus, memorializes the naval rivalry between the Ottomans and the Venetians. Major cities, such as Constantinople (Istanbul), Smyrna (Izmir) and Antioch are shown, while an elegant title banner completes the composition.
The map is from Willem Jansz Blaeu's (1571-1638) Atlas Novus, first issued in 1635, with new issues being published by Willem's son, Joan Blaeu. This atlas was the most commercially successful of its time, and its maps were widely admired as masterpieces of Baroque cartography.
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.