Fair example of Blaeu's map of the Sichuan region, from Blaeu's atlas of China.
The map is centered on Chengdu ("Chingtu") and extends southwards to the border with Yunnan. Other cities shown include Chongqing ('Chungking") and Yaan ("Yachen"). An enormous amount of other small place names are also given. Rivers, lakes, and mountains are well engraved. At the lower left side is an engraved explanation for cities and villages, rivers, lakes, fortresses, and other features.
This decorative map of the province was based on the maps of Jesuit missionary Martino Martini, The map features many place names and topographical details, a key to symbols, and decorative cartouches.
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.