The First European Printed Map of the Shanxi Province
Fine example of Blaeu's map of the Shanxi province of China, published by Johannes Blaeu for his atlas of China, the first such atlas published in the western world.
The map is beautifully engraved in the Dutch 17th-century style by one of the greatest map engravers of the time. The map shows the course of the Great Wall bounding the province to the north. The city of Taiyun ("Taiyuen") is shown. Many other cities, towns, forts, and geographical features are also shown.
Neighboring provinces, including those Hubei, Shaanxi, and Henan. Shanxi's name mean "west of the mountains," some of which are shown on the map.
The map appeared in Martino Martini's Novus Atlas Sinensis, published by Joannes Blaeu, the first western atlas of China, which included sixteen engraved maps of Chinese regions, and one general map of Japan.
The Atlas appeared both as a separate publication and as a part of Blaeu's Novus Atlas and later his Atlas Maior and is based on the surveying and compiling work of Father Martinus Martini, the Jesuit Superior of Hangzhou.
The seventeen maps are noteworthy not only for their accuracy, remarkable for the time, but also for their highly decorative cartouches featuring vignettes depicting regional Chinese dress, activities, and animals. In addition, it is one of the first true Sino-European publications, based on Chinese land surveys but presenting geographic data in a highly visual European cartographic format. - Reed & Demattè
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.