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The Pinnacle of Map Hand-Coloring. A Tour de force By the Master Colorist Dirk Jansz. Van Santen.

An extreme rarity on the market; a complete set of world and continents maps hand-colored and heightened in gold by the master colorist (Meester Afsetter) Dirk Jansz. van Santen, the most famous colorist of the Dutch Golden Age.

The maps bear several features characteristic of Van Santen's work. Namely, the borders are colored in a rich yellow-and-red scheme, with carmine red painted over and replacing the engraved neatlines. Gold is used lavishly throughout the maps, in the graticulated borders (alternating with ultramarine and carmine), on the equatorial and tropical lines, on some of the coastlines, on cities, over toponyms, on compass roses, and most impressively throughout the cartouches to improve and accentuate the garments, jewelry, and decorative elements, as well as the titles themselves.

Van Santen's coloring has been described as both "careful" and "impressionistic". In the hands of van Santen, the printed map itself falls away, acting as a mere starting point from which his artistry flows and overtakes the engraving. Where lesser colorists would have been content with one or two colors (as with the coloring of the birds in the Africa map's cartouche) van Santen employs six or more colors. Van Santen also used unusual but extremely effective combinations of colors; blues and pinks, purples, and host of subtle and well-executed skin tones.


This set includes the following maps, all from the same composite atlas.

Planisphaerium Terrestre, Sive Terrarum Orbis... (Shirley 578)

The present map focuses on twin hemispheres surrounded by eight smaller, circular projections depicting the world from various orientations, as well as four circular scientific diagrams. The projection on the left shows the Western Hemisphere, centering on the Americas, with Greenland at the northeastern border. In North America, California is depicted as an island, and a vast northwestern coast, Terra Esonis, stretches all the way to Asia, where an island north of Japan is labeled Yedso. In the South Pacific, partial coastlines can be seen for New Zealand and the Australian island of Tasmania, as well as the Solomon Islands and part of Papua New Guinea.

On the right, the Eastern Hemisphere shows Europe, Asia, Africa, and most of Australia (Hollandia Nova). The shores of this last continent are based on early Dutch encounters with the northern and western coastlines. While islands and the north of Europe and Asia extend toward the North Pole, the Southern Atlantic and Indian Oceans remain conspicuously empty, a departure from the grandiose southern continents often seen on earlier world maps.

In the top center of the map, a smaller circular projection depicts the Northern Hemisphere, with the North Pole at center. The corresponding Southern Hemisphere is at the center below the main hemispheres. Again, Allard has chosen to leave the South Pole empty, rather than fill it with hypothetical beaches and lands.

Circular projections in the four corners of the map show the world from slightly different, oblique or optical orientations. These allow viewers to understand which landmasses are antipodal to certain points. The figure in the upper left shows the antipodes of Amsterdam, with Amsterdam on the hemisphere in the upper right corner. The two hemispheres in the bottom corners show the world as if in 3-D, with the meridians curved to show the world as round, rather than flattened as many map projections do.

Two small polar projections appear at the bottom of the map. The projection in the lower left shows the Southern Hemisphere with the South Pole at the center, but it only extends to the Tropic of Capricorn. The corresponding northern polar projection shows the lands radiating from the North Pole to the Tropic of Cancer.

Four small circular scientific diagrams are depicted at the outer corners of the twin hemispheres. The diagram in the upper left depicts lines of latitude and longitude, while the diagrams in the other three corners show the relationship between the zenith, the nadir, and different horizons.

The present map was included in Allard’s Atlas Minor (1696) and, later, his Atlas Major (1705), as well as in composite atlases of the time. While his first world map, also a double-hemispheric projection, followed the style of Frederick de Wit and other seventeenth-century mapmakers in including lushly-illustrated border scenes and ornate decoration, the present map breaks from this tradition with its dark cross-hatched background providing a striking contrast to the other engraved projections. This simpler style lends itself to the natural philosophical details included in the map. The two cartouches illustrated as hanging tapestries at the top of the map, one in Latin and one in Dutch, retain some element of decorative embellishment, however.

This type of world map proved popular. Similar maps were produced by eighteenth-century mapmakers including Pieter Schenk, Adam Friedrich Zürner, Johann Homann, and Matthäus Seutter.

Recentissima Novi Orbis, Sive Americae Septentrionalis et Meridionalis Tabula... (Burden II 724, state 1 of 4)

The first state of Carel Allard's 1696 map of the Americas, described by Burden as "quite rare".

The treatment of the Strait of Anian is very unusual, with only the narrowest passage toward the otherwise undelineated northwest passage and an equally limited number of places in Button's Bay and Baffins Bay allowing for a transit from the Atlantic to the Pacific by water.

Another curious feature of the map is the "R. Massourite," a bold early depiction of the Missouri River. While its course is well south of the true course of the Missouri, the map would seem to be the first to both show and name the river in a form of its current name.  The depiction of the course of the river derives from Chrestien Le Clerc's 1691 Carte de la Nouvelle France . . . , which does not name the river.  The name Massourite would seem to derive from the Massourite Village and a short Osage River appear on the Nolin and Coronelli maps from the prior decade, which is generally shown below the confluence of the Missouri and the Mississippi Rivers.  The river is called the Pekitanoni River on De L'Isle's map of 1700 of North America and it would appear that it was not until De L'Isle's 1703 Carte Du Mexique et de la Floride that the name "Missouris" is attached to the river.

Allard's map includes one of the boldest depictions of the myth of Terra Esonis, a land bridge extending from Japan to the Straits of Anian. California is shown as an Island, based upon Sanson's second projection. The open-ended Great Lakes (based upon Sanson) and primitive early treatment of the Mississippi River are also noteworthy, as is the early Rio Colorado, extending to a lake in Apaches and Navajo regions of the Southwest, and mistakenly referencing Taos and Xila, indicating a confusion with the Rio Grande regarding the Taos reference. The interior of South America includes tribal vignettes in Brazil and a misprojected, overly wide projection of the continent.

Terrae Esonis, which connects the Straits of Anian to Japan, includes over a dozen place names, one the boldest renditions of this myth.

Quiri Regio, the Northern parts of what would become Australia, are also well delineated, showing what would become Carpentaria, the Gulf of Carpentaria and Arnham's Land. A massive island of Isabella appears above Australia. Several early place names and islands are also shown.

Accuratissima Europae Tabula...

Van Santen's hand-coloring really shines in this map, with hundreds of cities heightened in gold - he even added gold to the volcano at the center of Iceland.

Novissima et Perfectissima Africae Descriptio... (Betz 162)

Betz says of the Africa map:

On first appearance, this map appears to be a copy of the c.1670 De Wit map of Africa in its later states, except for the lack of decorative animals and ships, and a new decorative vignette surrounding the title cartouche. This map even includes some of De Wit's lettering within the surrounding gridline. However, Allard's map considerably updates the geography of the interior of Africa. The Allard map shows each of the two Ptolemaic lakes in Central Africa with a river flowing to the north. However, Allard abruptly ends the flow of this river just north the Equator, suggesting that the lakes were no longer considered to be the source of the White Nile River. Further, the source for the Blue Nile at Lake Tana in Abyssinia is well developed. All this suggests French influences (Duval, De Fer and others) in the development of this map...

Besides likely appearing as a separately issued map, this map appears in the Atlas Minor sive tabulae... of Carel Allard in 1697 with later issues. It is believed that this map is only known in one state after review of numerous examples, though the Americas map is known in four states. It is possible that Covens and Mortier acquired the copperplate for this map after Allard's death and added their own imprint. An example of this imprint has not been found.

Exactisssima Asiae Delineatio...

The map of Asia is perhaps the most decorative of the set, with its large, heavily-illuminated cartouche in the lower left. Van Santen has gone to extreme lengths to bring life to the scene. The ruler at left wears garments and carries a scepter that are all illuminated in gold. The scepter seems to also be heightened with silver, though this has tarnished over the centuries. The riches at her feet are colored with still more gold, and the chinaware has been carefully colored in blue and white.


The Allard set of world and continents maps is reasonably rare on its own -- we note a set for sale in New York for $29,000 -- however, complete sets colored by Dirk Jansz. Van Santen do not appear on the market. The last such group of maps that was offered for sale was a set of three Blaeu & Doncker sea charts with Daniel Crouch Rare Books in 2012 for which the price was £950,000.


This is believed to be the set of world and continents from the Van Santen composite atlas recorded as number 11 in Truusje Goedings's census of known works by Van Santen.

Paulus Swaen (late 1980s or early '90s);
Thence to W. Graham Arader III;
Thence to a corporate collection in Houston, Texas;
From whom we acquired the maps in the summer of 2020.

Condition Description
All maps in full original hand-coloring heightened with gold. See the main description for a discussion of the hand-coloring. A few minor edge tears expertly mended on verso. Ink manuscript pagination in upper right corners. Small expertly-repaired hole in the lower-left corner of the Europe map (see illustration).
Carel Allard Biography

Carel (Carol) Allard (Allardt) (1648–1709) was an engraver and publisher based in Amsterdam. Part of a prominent family of Dutch mapmakers, publishers, and print sellers, his father was engraver and publisher Hugo Allard (1627–1684), who left his business to Carel upon his death. Carel published anything in demand, including maps, topography, ethnography, newsprints, and restrikes of old plates of artistic prints, many of which likely came from his father’s stock. In 1706, Carel gave his copperplates to his son Abraham Allard, before going bankrupt.

Dirk Jansz. Van Santen Biography

Dirk Jansz van Santen (1637/38-1708) was the most famous map and print colorist of the Dutch Golden Age. His work masterful hand-coloring and illuminating of engravings was extremely sought after in his day and remains the pinnacle of map hand-coloring available to collectors today.