Europa recens descripta a Guilielmo Blaeuw

Willem Janszoon Blaeu (*1571 - 1638)
Old coloured map of Europe with borders by Willem J. Blaeu. Published 1644-55 in Amsterdam.

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Blaeu's famous Map of Europe with Beautiful Old Colours.

A striking and highly decorative map of Europe by Willem J. Blaeu, produced at the height of the Golden Age of Dutch mapmaking. With decorative borders showing traditional costumes of European peoples and city views. This is Koeman's variant a, still with the mythical island of Frisland to the southwest of Iceland. Decorated with a title cartouche, bears and lions on the land areas, and galleons and sea monsters on the sea.

The map is framed on both sides by five costumed figures. Along the upper edge runs a decorative border with nine European towns in oval frames: Amsterdam, Prague, Constantinople (Istanbul), Venice, Rome, Paris, London, Toledo and Lisbon. These borders are based entirely on border decorations from Blaeu's 1608 wall map of Europe. The geographical content is also a reduction of this wall map. The map was first published separately in 1617, then added to Willem Blaeu's Atlantis Appendix in 1631. This example comes from the Latin edition of Theatrum Orbis Terrarum published by Willem's son Joan between 1644 and 1655. The later variant b without the imaginary island of Frisland between Iceland and Greenland appears in Joan Blaeu's Atlas Maior published 1662-72.


CartographerWillem Janszoon Blaeu
TitleEuropa recens descripta a Guilielmo Blaeuw
Publisher, YearAmsterdam, 1644-1655
Plate Size41.0 x 55.5 cm (16.1 x 21.9 inches)
Sheet Size52.2 x 62.6 cm (20.6 x 24.6 inches)
ReferenceVan der Krogt, P.: Koeman's Atlantes Neerlandici, 1000:2 variant a; Schilder, G.: Monumenta Cartographica Neerlandica VI, 26.3


Slightly browned, slight spotting but confined to the margins. Very well preserved example with splendid old colouring. Large margins.


Willem Janszoon Blaeu was born 1571 in Alkmaar. He was trained from 1594 to 1596 by the famous danish astronomer Tycho Brahe. 1599 he went to Amsterdam and founded a business as globe maker. Later he started producing map and sea charts, including his first world map in 1605. In 1633 he was appointed Hydrographer for the Dutch East India Company (VOC). His most famous work was the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum sive Atlas Novus of 1635, which was published until 1655 in total six volumes. After Blaeu's death in 1638 his sons Joan and Cornelis continued the business and finished the Atlas Novus and started an even larger work, the Atlas Maior, which reached 12 volumes. In 1672 a fire destroyed the printing house and most of the printing plates. Joan Blaeu died the following year, leaving the business to his three sons Willem (1635-1701), Pieter (1637-1706) and Joan II (1650-1712). While the business began to decline in the hands of his sons, the dominance of the Blaeu publishing house finally ended in 1703 when the V.O.C. stopped publishing maps bearing the Blaeu family name. Some of the surviving plates were bought by F. de Wit and Schenk & Valk.

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Willem Janszoon Blaeu: Europa recens descripta a Guilielmo Blaeuw.
Old coloured map of Europe with borders by Willem J. Blaeu. Published 1644-55 in Amsterdam.

Europe Continent - Blaeu, Willem Janszoon - Europa recens descripta a Guilielmo Blaeuw

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