Joan Blaeu's Atlas of Scotland and Ireland

Joan Blaeu was the son of the prominent publisher, cartographer, and astronomer Willem Janszoon Blaeu, whose work is also on display in this exhibit. Joan assisted his father in the creation of the work Novus Atlas and also followed in his footsteps by becoming the official cartographer of the Dutch East India Company. Building on the Novus Atlas, which contained up to 208 individual maps, Joan published his 11 volume Atlas Maior between 1662 and 1672. This expanded work contained 594 total maps, making it one of if not the largest cartographic work of the 17th century.

On display from this expansive work is the fifth volume, featuring 55 hand colored illustrated plates depicting Ireland and Scotland. Blaeu first published his atlas of Scotland in 1654, based on the geographical surveying of Timothy Pont and Robert Gordon. Pont’s work represented the first comprehensive geographical survey of Scotland and involved him personally visiting all remote areas of the kingdom. Pont conducted his survey in the late 16th and early 17th century, during a time when the crowns of England, Ireland, and Scotland were unified under King James VI and I, who had initially requested the publication of Pont’s maps.

Bequest of Duncan Payne, class of 1963.

Joan Blaeu (1596-1673), Joost van den Vondel, (1587-1679)
J. Blaeus grooten atlas, oft, Werelt-beschryving, in welcke 't aertryck, de zee, en hemel, wordt vertoont en beschreven.
Uytgegeven t'Amsterdam: By Joan Blaeu, 1662.

Lehigh University Catalog Record:

A version of this text has been digitized and is available through The National Library of Scotland.