Willem Blaeu's Novus Atlas

The son of a fishmonger, Willem Janszoon Blaeu’s mathematical talent and interest led him to a career in publishing, with a focus on globe and mapmaking. His interest in math and astronomy led to Willem studying at Tycho Brahe’s observatory. Blaeu was an early proponent of Copernicus’ heliocentric model of the solar system, first evident in his 1619 world map. Blaeu became mapmaker for the Dutch East India Company, which was instrumental in the expansion of global trade and exploration. As part of his role at the Dutch East India Company, Blaeu was involved with the international effort to accurately and reliably calculate longitude while at sea. While the longitude problem would eventually be solved by John Harrison’s invention of the marine chronometer in the 1760s as part of the British Longitude Prize, Blaeu was part of the Dutch States-General’s effort, which considered a proposed solution by Galileo Galilei. 

This work was a collaboration between Willem and his son Joan, whose work is also on display in this exhibit. The Novus Atlas was originally published in four languages, Latin, French, German, and Dutch.

Willem Janszoon Blaeu (1571-1638).
Novus atlas, das ist, Weltbeschreibung: mit schönen newen aussfuhrlichen Land-Taffeln in Kupffer gestochen/und an den Tag gegeben.
Amsterdami: Apud Iohannem et Cornelium Blaeu, 1641-1642.

Lehigh University Catalog Record: https://asa.lib.lehigh.edu/Record/794795