VISSCHER, Nicolaes (1649-1702)
[FOUR CONTINENTS] Europa delineata et recens edita; Asiæ nova delineata; Africæ accurata tabula; Nova et accuratissima totius Americæ descriptio
[Amsterdam: Visscher, n.d., but c. 1658]. Four hand-coloured copper engraved maps. Sheet size: 19 3/4 x 23 inches.
A set of the four continental maps from the Golden Age of Dutch cartography.
The Dutch were especially well equipped for the role they played in the European discovery and colonization of the wider world. Unencumbered by any desire to impose their religious or political beliefs, they simply wanted to trade commodities and profit thereby. The ascendancy of the Dutch in global trade lasted only as long as they could withstand the English and French, who, with much larger populations, ultimately overwhelmed them, but for a considerable portion of the 17th century, the Dutch were supreme. The outlines of the world the Dutch merchantmen discovered was conveyed to the rest of Europe (as Spain and Portugal did not) in beautifully engraved and coloured maps that resonated with authority. In these four maps by Visscher, with only a few exceptions (Hokkaido, Australia, New Zealand and the mythical Anian), the continents are delineated and defined in a remarkably accurate way. This was the accumulation of the day to day observations of sea captain / tradesmen, who at this time gave the world the first comprehensive sea charts. The Dutch were tradesmen and seafarers, not conquerors or settlers, so the fundamental advancement in geographical knowledge was in coastlines and rivers, as if in preparation for the great movements of peoples to come. The interiors derive from other, less reliable sources, some of them ancient as the Ptolemaic interior of Africa. The four maps form a balanced composition and an aesthetically appealing portrait of the newly discovered World. Visscher's cartouches are light, optimistic and exuberant, happily implying a bright future. Each of the four maps bears a dedicatory cartouche to a prominent Dutch statesman and illustrates his coat of arms, usually surrounded by gods, goddesses and angels.
Betz, 87; Norwich 55; Burden, 332.