Exhibitions

While maps are essentially scientific documents, their acceptability is enhanced if they are pleasing to the eye. In addition to skillful engraving, which alone is quite beautiful, decorative elements may be added to improve the overall visual impact. Color, symbols, ornamental lettering, and decorative imagery enhance the attrac­tiveness of the map and simultaneously augment and clarify informational content The motifs and images were usually borrowed from pattern and emblem books, illustrated history and travel books, works of art, and other maps. Accordingly, changing artistic styles and fashions were reflected in the decorative imagery.

The ocean areas, devoid of geographic detail, invited decoration and were embellished with textured patterns, sailing ships, sea battles, mermaids, sea monsters, and compass roses. Unexplored blank land areas were similarly filled with title and text panels, vignettes of natives with their habitations and customs, and images of fauna and flora. The latter practice elicited the following satirical observation by Jonathan Swift:

So Geographers, in Afric-maps, With savage-pictures fill their gaps; And o'er uninhabitable downs Place elephants for want of towns.

On Poetry, A Rhapsody (Dublin, 1733)

Other opportunities for embellishment were found in the composi­tion and framing of title panels (cartouches) and mileage scales, and in elaborate mini-portraits and inset views.

8. Novi Belgii Novaeque Angliae nec non partis Virginiae tabula multis in locis emendata

This map is a prime example of seventeenth-century Dutch cartography at its best it combines accurate and detailed geogra­phy with elegant design, engraving, embellishment, and color. The geographic view from Chesapeake Bay to Penobscot Bay is the most advanced of its time, showing virtually all known towns and settlements, the locations of each Indian tribe encountered by the settlers, and the first relatively accurate delineation of the island of Manhattan. This map served as the model for maps of the region for nearly a century, and was used in 1685 for settlement of the boundary dispute between William Penn and Lord Baltimore. Tastefully applied outline color delineates boundaries of European colonies. Decorative vignettes positioned in otherwise empty spaces portray Indian stockades, indigenous animals and birds, two compass roses, a European sailing ship, and a native canoe and dugout The most remarkable decorative element is the panoramic inset view of "Nieuw Amsterdam" as it appeared in about 1652; this is the third known engraved view of New York, with its detailed depiction of topography, dwellings, the fort, a church, a windmill, a crane, and even a gallows!

Nicolas Visscher (Dutch, 1618-1679)
Novi Belgii Novaeque Angliae nec non Partis Virginiae tabula multis in locis emendata (Amsterdam, 1655/about 1683)
Engraving, hand colored in outline
Osher Collection

510.0001
9. Novum Amsterodamum

This is a re-engraving of the New York view popularized by the previous map. By the time this engraving was published it was twenty years out of date, reflecting the scarcity of images of the New World and the consequent practice of copying older ones.

Arnoldus Montanus (Dutch, 1625-1683)
Novum Amsterodamum. From, De Nieuwe en Onbekende Weereld (Amsterdam, 1673)
Engraving, hand colored
Smith Collection

4089.0001
10. Totius Neobelgii Nova et Accuratissima Tabula

This map exemplifies the rampant plagiarism practiced by map-makers of the period. It is essentially a direct copy of object 8, including the decorative vignettes, with minor additions and geographic updating. The only major changes are the inset view and its title, "Restitutio," proclaiming the Dutch recapture of New York from the English. The view depicts New York, now a city instead of a village, with cannon firing and soldiers on the waterfront at the moment of victory. Allegorical figures atop the inset portray vanquished England as a solitary disconsolate and disheveled woman (at left), and victorious Holland as an Amazo­nian figure with victory wreath in hand, adored by grateful citizens and abetted by the god Mercury, with subservient natives at her feet offering tribute. The bold and exuberant colors convey the spirit of patriotic celebration.

Reiner and Josua Ottens (Dutch, active 1725-1750)
Totius Neobelgii Nova et Accuratissima Tabula (Amsterdam, about 1720)
Engraving, hand colored
Osher Collection

620.0001
11. Tabula Magellanica, qua Tierrae del Fuego

To Europeans of the late seventeenth century, the region depicted here was one of the remotest and least understood areas of the world. Yet it was of considerable interest because of its strategic navigational and commercial importance. Geographic information was scant, vague, and limited to the immediate coastal areas, and there consequently was ample space for embellishment Inland areas are filled with images of exotic fauna, mostly birds, including penguins and ostriches. There are tropical trees, and scantily clad natives engaged in hunting and various domestic activities. Compass roses, ships, and a naval battle ornament the seas.

John Ogilby (English, 1600-1676)
Tabula Magellanica, qua Tierrae del Fuego. From, America (London, 1671)
Engraving, hand colored
Smith Collection

1760.0001
12. Tabula Magellanica qua Tierrae del Fuego

This map and the Ogilby map above illustrate some of the competitive practices of seventeenth-century mapmakers. Copying of maps was common, since copyright protection was limited within countries and virtually nonexistent across national borders. In this case, the similarity is due to a complex pattern of plagiarism: the Ogilby map was printed from a plate by Arnoldus Montanus, who copied from the Jansson map, which itself was largely taken from a map of Willem Blaeu. The ornate frames of the explanatory panels at the top center of both maps are of identical design; the checkerboard-style mileage scales in the lower left differ only in their decorative borders. The title panels or "cartouches" (lower right) are entirely different in design, but contain virtually identical wording, copied from Blaeu. In spite of the fact that both maps are outdated, their titles describe them as "novissima et accuratissima" (newest and most accurate). The land vignettes are similar, but on the Jansson map are larger and contain more detailed views of native activities. The seas display fewer ships and more ornamental lettering of the classic Dutch "swash" variety, characterized by flowing italic script with elegant flourishes. Allegorical figures surrounding the title and mileage-scale panels on the two maps are different, reflecting a touch of originality or, more likely, copying from different sources.

Jan Jansson (Dutch, 1588-1664)
Tabula Magellanica qua Tierrae del Fuego (Amsterdam, about 1652)
Engraving, hand colored
Smith Collection

1743.0001
13. Quivirae Regnũ cum alijs versus Boreã

This is the first separate map of the northwestern part of North America, covering the essentially unexplored region from present-day California to Alaska. Of particular interest is the depiction of the magnetic pole as an arctic island (upper left margin), and of the legendary fabulously rich city of Quivira, the never-realized goal of many Spanish explorers. The fine hand coloring is typical of the early Dutch period, and the few cities are designated by conventional red symbols. The sea is embellished with detailed engravings of European and oriental ships, and sea monsters, including one with the head and neck of a unicorn. The unknown interior areas are occupied by text panels and vignettes of animals, including "cattle with camel humps," and of natives living in tents. An inscription notes similarity of the tents to those of the Tartars, possibly an early suggestion of migration from Asia to America.

Gerard de Jode (Dutch, 1509-1591)
Quivirae Regnũ cum alijs versus Boreã (Amsterdam, 1593)
Engraving, hand colored
Osher Collection

329.0001
14. The Sea Carde of Britayne

This chart of the coast of Brittany is from the English edition of the first atlas of printed sea charts and is the first to show offshore details such as soundings, anchorages, channels, and navigational hazards. Although intended as a practical navigational tool, its Dutch origins are evident in the elegant engraving, ornamentation, and coloring. Sailing ships, sea monsters, and a handsome compass rose adorn the open sea, which is depicted in a distinctive wave pattern with smaller waves and calmer waters along the shoreline. Islands and shorelines are depicted in a unique fashion, with almost pictorial profiles of topographical contours and buildings, to facilitate recognition from vessels offshore. Additional coastal profiles are superimposed over blank inland areas. Geographical details are limited to the coastal areas, not because information concerning the interior was lacking but because it was irrelevant to the seafarer. The interior space is given over to an elaborate title cartouche and to a decorative portrayal of rolling landscapes populated not by exotic creatures and savages but by domesticated animals of a civilized European country.

Lucas Jansz. Waghenaer (Dutch, 1533-1606)
The Sea Carde of Britayne Conteining the Coastes, Bays, Iles, and havens. From, The Mariners Mirrour (London, 1588)
Engraving, hand colored
Smith Collection

1661.0001
15. America

This is one of the most accurate and attractive early seventeenth-century maps of the New World. The seas have a "watered-silk" texture and contain, in addition to the usual sea creatures and European sailing ships, an oriental junk and three types of native craft: a canoe, a dugout, and a kayak. The latter images were taken from accounts of voyages to America illustrated and published by Theodor de Bry, a favorite source for decorative vignettes, as seen on several other maps in this exhibition. The inset at the lower left is from the same source. An elaborate architectural and strap-work frame surmounted by tropical birds and fruits encloses a fascinating domestic scene of Brazilian Indians preparing and consuming a native beverage. Women initiate the process by chewing roots and spitting them into a kettle; after cooking, the mixture is served to the men.

Jodocus Hondius (Flemish, 1563-1612)
America, Amsterdam, 1606
Engraving, hand colored
Osher Collection

384.0001