Theatrum Orbis Terrarum. [Le Theatre du Monde].

"The greatest and finest atlas ever published": Willem and Joan Blaeu's magnificent Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, or, Le Theatre du Monde

Theatrum Orbis Terrarum. [Le Theatre du Monde].

BLAEU, Willem and Joan.


Item Number: 126307

Amsterdam: Chez Jean Blaeu/Apud Guiljelmum et Johannem Blaeu, 1643-1645.

A fine French-text copy in a presentation binding. Folio, 4 volumes, contemporary Dutch vellum likely from the Blaeu workshop with gilt tooling to the spine in eight compartments within gilt bands, central gilt arabesques and fleuron corner pieces within double gilt ruling to the front and rear panels, all edges gilt. Gilt presentation inscription to the front panel of vol. I dated July 3, 1646 dedicating the set to Omer Talon, avocat-général to the French Parliament with the compliments of François du Monstier, rector of the University of Paris. Illustrated with 335 magnificent hand-colored engraved maps of the world and four continents including, in particular, sixty devoted to Great Britain (Volume IV), the map of the environs of Frankfurt (Volume I), a fine map of China and Japan (Volume III), and a series of thirteen maps of America (Volume III) that includes early and important maps of New England and the Chesapeake Bay. The set is comprised of: Volume I: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum Sive Atlas Novus; in Quo Tabulae et Descriptiones omnium Regionum, Editae a Guiljel: et Joanne Blaeu. [Amsterdami: Apud Guiljelmum et Johannem Blaeu, 1643]. Folio, 120 engraved maps in two parts. Part I: World map, plus 83 maps of Germany, Scandinavia, the Arctic and eastern Europe, several oversized and folding. Part II: 36 maps of the Lowlands. Volume II: Le Theatre Du Monde, ou Novvel Altas, Mis en lumiere par Guillaume & Jean Blaeu. Second Partie [A Amsterdam: Chez Jean Blaeu, 1643-1644]. Folio, contains 92 engraved maps in two parts (one folding): Part I: 48 maps of France; Part II: 14 maps of Spain and Portugal, 12 maps of Asia, 5 maps of Africa, 13 maps of America, including the appendix of the British Isles, map number 15 entitled “Le Duche de Mantove” on recto of leaf and “Mantua Ducatus” on map, without leaf 22 as listed in Van der Krogt. Volume III: Le Theatre Du Monde, ou Novvel Atlas, Mis en lumiere par Guillaume & Jean Blaeu. Troiseme Partie [A Amsterdam: Chez Jean Blaeu, 1643]. Folio, contains 66 engraved maps: 58 maps of Italy and 4 maps of Greece, with maps 2 and 3 supplied from another copy. Volume IV: Le Theatre Du Monde, ou Novvel Altas, Mis en lumiere par Guillaume & Jean Blaeu. Quatriesme Partie. [Amsterdami: Apud Johannem Blaeu, 1645]. Folio, contains 57 engraved maps detailing the British Isles with the maps “Britannia prout divisa” and “Anglia Regnum” supplied. Lacking the map of Wales. [Van der Krogt 2:212.1F, 2:212.2F, 2:212.3F,  and 2:211.3C; Koeman BL 42A]. In near fine condition. Exceptionally clean internally with some maps numbered in a contemporary hand. Armorial bookplates. Exceptionally rare and desirable. Containing some of the most beautiful maps ever produced during the golden age of cartography.

In 1630, Willem Janszoon Blaeu, the official cartographer of the Dutch East India Company, published his first world atlas, the Atlantis Appendix, with 60 engraved maps. The second expanded edition, with 99 maps, appeared the following year and Blaeu continued to produce new maps at such a rate that by 1634, he announced his intention to publish a new world atlas, entitled the Theatrum. This atlas, which originally incorporated most of the maps from Blaeu's Appendix, was expanded so rapidly that by 1643, when this version appeared, it consisted of four volumes with 336 maps. Widely considered one of the finest seventeenth century illustrated books printed, Blaeu's Theatrum is universally acclaimed for the quality of the engraving, paper, and fine coloring.

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