Striking example of Jodocus Hondius' decorative map of the Iberian Peninsula, first issued circa 1610.
Hondius' Nova Hispaniae Descriptio is the first carte-a-figures map of the region and one of the most striking 17th century printed maps of Spain.
Based on Gerard Mercator's map of Spain, the map is surrounded by plans, city views, and characters in the dress of the day. The top margin includes views of the cities of Alhama, Granada, Bilbao, Burgos, Vélez-Málaga, and Écija. At the bottom are shown Lisbon, Toledo, Sevilla, and Valladolid. In the bottom right corner is a Renaissance cartouche crowned by the coat of arms of the Kingdom of Spain, flanked with two seated male figures and decorated by three figureheads. On the sides, three female and three male figures in distinctive costumes represent the nobility, merchant, and peasant classes.
In the bottom margin is a medallion with the portrait of King Philip III of Spain, and an inscription with the king's name. In the bottom left corner, the scale appears in a pedestal below the emblem of the publishing house.
The publisher, Jodocus Hondius (1563-1612), was an acclaimed Flemish printer who lived in Amsterdam and specialized in the production of maps and globes. He was a friend of Gerard Mercator and edited his atlas. In 1604, Hondius purchased Mercator's plates from his heirs and published a new edition of the atlas, which was constantly expanded and became quite popular in the 17th century. This map is not dated, but the portrait of King Philip III of Spain (1598-1621) and Hondius's date of death suggest it was published around 1610.
Jodocus Hondius the Elder (1563-1612), or Joost de Hondt, was one of the most prominent geographers and engravers of his time. His work did much to establish Amsterdam as the center of cartographic publishing in the seventeenth century. Born in Wakken but raised in Ghent, the young Jodocus worked as an engraver, instrument maker, and globe maker.
Hondius moved to London in 1584, fleeing religious persecution in Flanders. There, he worked for Richard Hakluyt and Edward Wright, among others. Hondius also engraved the globe gores for Emery Molyneux’s pair of globes in 1592; Wright plotted the coastlines. His engraving and nautical painting skills introduced him to an elite group of geographic knowledge seekers and producers, including the navigators Drake, Thomas Cavendish, and Walter Raleigh, as well as engravers like Theodor De Bry and Augustine Ryther. This network gave Hondius access to manuscript charts and descriptions which he then translated into engraved maps.
In 1593 Hondius returned to Amsterdam, where he lived for the rest of his life. Hondius worked in partnership with Cornelis Claesz, a publisher, and maintained his ties to contacts in Europe and England. For example, from 1605 to 1610, Hondius engraved the plates for John Speed’s Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine.
One of Hondius’ most successful commercial ventures was the reprinting of Mercator’s atlas. When he acquired the Mercator plates, he added 36 maps, many engraved by him, and released the atlas under Mercator’s name, helping to solidify Mercator’s reputation posthumously. Hondius died in 1612, at only 48 years of age, after which time his son of the same name and another son, Henricus, took over the business, including the reissuing of the Mercator atlas. After 1633, Hondius the Elder’s son-in-law, Johannes Janssonius, was also listed as a co-publisher for the atlas.