Nova Et Exacta Asiae Geographica Descriptio
新亚洲地理精确说明图

 

    This spectacular wall map is one of only a handful in existence by Willem Janzoon Blaeu, the foremost Dutch cartographer of the 17th century.  Born in Alkmaar, Blaeu studied under Tycho Brahe and settled in Amsterdam, where he became a famous globemaker and publisher. He founded the Blaeu firm in 1596, and with the collaboration of his sons, Cornelius (1616-1648) and Joan (1596-1673), the firm was the most productive cartographic establishment in the Netherlands until it was destroyed by the Great Fire of 1672.  Blaeu published his first world atlas, the Atlantis Appendix, with 60 maps in 1630, and continued to produce new maps at such a rate that by 1634, he abandoned the single volume format and announced his intention to publish a new world atlas, entitled the Theatrum.  Appointed mapmaker to the Dutch East India Company in 1633-1634, Blaeu had access to fresh geographical information that was not available to any of his contemporaries, allowing for the unprecedented degree of accuracy of his maps.  The appeal of his maps, however, was hardly confined to their sophisticated geographical information, for they were also among the most beautiful cartographic works of the Golden Age of Dutch Mapping.  

    The most striking and rare examples of Blaeu’s work are his wall maps.  Most maps produced during this period were printed on one or two sheets, and bound into atlases or other books.  A very limited number of large wall maps, involving numerous plates to print a certain area, were produced by major cartographic houses for ostentatious public display.  The surviving number of these maps is exceedingly scarce.  As opposed to their bound, smaller brethren, these maps were mounted on canvas and exposed to light, dirt, and other environmental factors.  Considering these factors, this map of Asia is in remarkably good condition, and it is one of fewer than ten of Blaeu’s wall maps that remain in private hands.  It boasts one of Blaeu’s most recognizable decorative flourishes, with sixteen figurative side panels containing portraits of indigenous peoples, including the natives of China, Japan, and Sumatra, and twelve city views frame the bottom margin showing cities such as Macao and Jerusalem.  Blaeu’s distinctive decorative devices are in evidence throughout the map; in addition to the city views and portraits, the face of the map itself includes numerous renderings of sea monsters, sailing ships, and such fanciful details as Neptune accompanied by a mermaid.  The acclaim that Blaeu's maps receive is also based largely upon their extremely high production standards.  The quality of the engraving, the paper, and the printing are of the highest order, even more so in ambitious projects such as this.  This is a cartographic masterpiece by one of the most celebrated cartographers of the 17th century.

 

这件精美的地图出自17世纪最重要的荷兰制图师威廉·扬松·布劳(Willem Janzoon Blaeu),是目前极少数存世的威廉·布劳作品之一。威廉·布劳出生于荷兰阿尔克马尔(Alkmaar)市,曾跟随丹麦天文学家第谷·布拉赫(Tycho Brahe)进行学习和研究工作。后定居阿姆斯特丹,并成为著名的地理学家和出版家。1596年,威廉·布劳与他的两个儿子科尼利厄斯Cornelius (1616-1648) 和琼Joan (1596-1673) 合作成立了Blaeu公司。该公司曾是当时荷兰最多产的制图公司,直到1672年被一场大火所摧毁。

1630年,威廉·布劳出版了他的第一本世界地图集《亚特兰蒂斯附录》和60张地图,并持续以这种效率出版新地图。1634年,他决定不再以单卷形式出版地图,并宣布将出版一本名为the Theatrum 的全新世界地图集。1633年至1634年期间,威廉·布劳在荷兰东印度公司担任绘图师。这份工作让威廉·布劳得以接触许多同时代的人所无法获得的新地理信息,从而使其制作的地图达到了前所未有的精确度。

威廉·布劳地图的吸引力不仅仅局限于其所涵盖的复杂的地理信息,也在于它们代表着荷兰制图业黄金时期最杰出的制图作品。威廉·布劳最引人注目且珍稀的作品是他所制作挂图。这一时期大多数的地图都是印在单张或两张纸上,然后放入地图集或者其他书籍里的。大型制图公司为了进行炫耀式的公开展示也生产过极少数的,以众多板块来共同展示一个特定的区域大型挂图。目前这种挂图的存世数量极少。与之前所说的放入地图册和书籍的小型地图不同,这种大型地图被置于画布上,并且暴露于光,灰尘和其他环境因素当中。正因如此,这张亚洲地图的品相可谓非常完好。此外,这也是目前私人收藏手中仅有的不到十件威廉·布劳挂图之一。

这件作品展示了威廉·布劳最知名的绘图纹饰之一。地图两侧的16张小图描绘了中国,日本,苏门答腊的土著民;底部的12张图又分别展示了澳门,耶路撒冷等城市的景象。这张地图充分展现了威廉•布劳独特的绘图装饰技艺。除了对城市和人物的描绘,地图里还有许多对于海怪、帆船,以及美人鱼相伴海王星等奇妙细节的展示。

此外,对于威廉•布劳所制地图的赞誉同样源于他对于作品的极高生产标准。不论是雕刻,纸张还是印刷都具有极高的品质,对于大型作品的要求更是如此。这件地图无疑是一件来自17世纪最负盛名的地图制作者之一的杰作。