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Old, antique world map by J.B. Vrients

Item number:25803
Category:Antique maps > world and polar regions
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Price: 28000 Euro ($32760 / £25480)
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***   Rare and highly important Vrients World Map   ***

Orbis Terrae Compendiosa Descriptio Ex peritissimorum totius orbis Gaeographorum operibus desumta. - P. Plancius - J.B. Vrients, 1596.


Old world map - double hemispheres by J.B. Vrients.

Date of the first edition: 1596
Date of this map: 1596

Copper engraving, printed on paper.
Engraved by Arnold and Hendrik van Langren.
Size (not including margins): 39.5 x 57.5cm (15.4 x 22.4 inches)
Verso: Blank
Condition: 3 vertical and 1 horizontal folds (as issued in Itinerario), 3 tiny holes at folds reinforced.
Condition Rating: A
References: Shirley (World), 192 (Rarity "R"); Wagner, 184; Schilder 7, 10.27 (Facs. 19)

From: Jan Huygen van Linschoten, Itinerario, Voyage ofte Schipvaert naer Oost ofte Portugaels Indien.... Amsterdam: C. Claesz, 1595-96.

Linschoten, one-time secretary to the Archbishop of Goa and assiduous observer of practices in the East, wrote a detailed account of his travels in a work richly illustrated with regional engravings and maps: the Itinerario.

"This map is a fairly accurate copy of Petrus Plancius's world map published in 1594 by Cornelis Claesz. Since 1596, Plancius's map was added to Van Linschoten's Itinerario and bound into the volume as one of its six maps. However, a few copies of the Itinerario (in the editions of 1596-99) contain a new world map that was engraved by the brothers Arnold Floris and Hendrik Floris van Langren. Their names appear in the hemisphere of the southern firmament: Arnoldus & Henricus Florentij à Langren fratres sculpserunt. Plancius is no longer mentioned as author in the title that runs along the upper edge across the full width of the map. In its place, the wording gives the address of the Antwerp publisher Joan Baptista Vrients, where the map can be purchased. Because the Itinerario carries the address of Cornelis Claesz in Amsterdam, we will have to consider the latter to be the primary and his colleague in Antwerp as co-publisher. This was not the first time Vrients had collaborated with Cornelis Claesz on the publication of a cartographic work. They might have wanted to be able to sell the Itinerario in Catholic countries as well. Instead of including a world map associated with the Reformation ideas of the theologian-geographer Plancius, who was known as a fanatic, they might well have preferred to use a map of the world bearing the neutral name and address of Vrients. Proof that the map was printed in Amsterdam, however, is provided by Cornelis Claesz's Const ende Caert- Register, where the map is listed for sale as 'Globe-Caert van Langren met zijn cieraet'.
The double hemispheres are framed by allegorical figures personifying the four continents. The space on top is occupied by Europe and Asia, while Africa and America are depicted below. In contrast to the representation on Plancius's 1594 map, the Van Langren brothers decided not to split America up into regions. The female figures are modifications of the allegorical renditions of the continents as they were represented in the series of prints by Adriaen Collaert after the designs of Maerten de Vos. The main personages are placed in a landscape typical of the continent in question, and they hold characteristic attributes in their hands: wearing a crown, Europe is seated on a globe with a sceptre and a cornucopia in her hands; Asia is seated on a camel and holds an incense burner in her right hand, while the left hand is resting on the sheath of a sword; a scantily clothed Africa is seated on a crocodile and holds a bow and a branch of spice in het hands; America, wearing only loincloth and a feather headdress, is seated on a giant armadillo and is armed with an arrow and a spear. The depicted clothing and attributes of the women denote the hierarchical structure of the four continents: the opulently dressed Europe and Asia are followed by the naked figures of Africa and America.
Not only in the representation of the decorations but also in the map content, this map deviates in a couple of ways from Plancius's 1594 world map. The most significant change is in the way the Arctic region is drawn. Although the four large polar islands are still shown, the island archipelago to the west of Novaya Zemlya has disappeared. Novaya Zemlya (Nova Zemla) now appears on the 1596 map as an elongated island, while there are no islands in the sea to the west of it (Petzorke morie). Further, the characteristic Cape Tabin, the most northerly projecting cape of continental Asia, is drawn even further to the north, to 74° (on the 1594 map, it was drawn to 71°). Thus, the only part of the so fervently desired northeast passage that remains is just a narrow sea strait." (Schilder).

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