Sanderus catalogue

Old antique map in the shape of a lion - Leo Belgicus by Hendrik Floris van Langren - Cornelis Claesz

Item number:11609
Category:Antique maps > europe > the low countries
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***   Extremely rare Leo Belgicus by H.F. van Langren - only 4 copies recorded   ***


Leo Belgicus - Hendrik Floris van Langren - Cornelis Claesz, before 1609.

Old map in the shape of a lion - Leo Belgicus by Hendrik Floris van Langren - Cornelis Claesz.


Date: before 1609.

Copper Engraving
Size: 37.5 x 45.5 cm (14.76 x 17.91 inch) (height x width)
Verso: Blank
Condition: Trace of an old faint horizontal fold, else excellent.
Condition Rating: A
References: Schilder 7, 15.8; Van der Heijden (Leo Belg), 4.1

From: Separate publication

The Leo Belgicus map that was engraved by Hendrik Floris van Langren is one of the earliest examples of a map depicting the Seventeen Provinces in the shape of a lion. The Leo Belgicus is an allegory for the courage and perseverance of the Dutch provinces in their resistance to suppression by the Spanish. The idea behind an image in this form was introduced by the Austrian Michael Aitsinger in his book on the Dutch revolt, De Leone Belgico (Cologne, 1583). Aitsinger envisioned the Netherlands fighting like a lion against a powerful Spain. The oldest Leo Belgicus map is included in Aitsinger's work, engraved by Frans Hogenberg. The map became a great success in this shape and was soon copied by various mapmakers.
The title on Van Langren's map is placed in the stippled sea, which is decorated with two ships and a sea-monster. In the right upper corner is an oval scrollwork-cartouche with following (here translated) Latin text: "A skilful made geographical map representing the Seventeen Provinces of the Netherlands in the form of a lion, showing also the coats of arms of the provinces, their boundaries and their governors, as defined and appointed by the supreme authorities in 1559'. The rectangular cartouche below this text shows a list with the number of towns and villages per province. Along the bottom three Dutch costumed couples are shown.
In the left bottom corner the engraver is mentioned: Henricus Florentij à Langren sculpsit. Hendrik Floris van Langren was active as an engraver of maps between 1592-1604, working frequently also for Cornelis Claesz.
This copperplate is likely to have been published by Cornelis Claesz. In his Const ende Caert-Register of 1609 the folowing note can be found: 'Leeuw Caerten met Gouverneurs en steden' [Lions maps with governors and towns]. It appears also from this catalogue that the portraits and town plans had to be mounted along the map's borders. For two stuivers he offered: 'All Governors of the Netherlands, for placing below maps'. Indeed, the Würzburg copy of Van Langren's Leo Belgicus is framed by pasted strips with portraits, plans and town views. The top- and bottom border of the map contain medaillons with the portraits of the various governors ruling over both parts of the Netherlands. At the two side borders the map is bordered by a double strip containing plans and town views of several cities in the Netherlands.
Schilder does not exclude the possibility that this Van Langren map was published before 1598, the date Joannes van Doetecum's map appeared. The cartouche text is nearly identical with the one by Van Langren, even the announcement concerning the governors. (Schilder 7).

After Cornelis Claesz's death in 1609, the copperplate of the Leo Belgicus came into Pieter van den Keere's possession. He made some revisions. Van den Keere erased the engraver's name and added his own name as publisher. A small scale bar was added in a simple cartouche in the right top corner. The small decorative border of the original plate was replaced by a graduation of degrees of longitude and latitude.

Extremely rare. Schilder quotes only 4 copies of this first state of which 2 with an unknown present location.

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