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1655 Merian Map of Coast of Brazil and View of Olinda and Recife, Brazil

Das Norder Theil des Lands Brasilien. - Main View

1655 Merian Map of Coast of Brazil and View of Olinda and Recife, Brazil


Exquisitely detailed map and view of Recife, Brazil.



Das Norder Theil des Lands Brasilien.
  1655 (dated)     14.5 x 18 in (36.83 x 45.72 cm)


This is a stunningly engraved 1655 Matthaeus Merian map of the coast of Brazil and a view of Olinda and Recife in Pernambuco, Brazil. The inset map, shown as if being unrolled on a piece of parchment, shows the coast of Brazil, and more specifically the Capitania de Pernambuco. The cities along the coast are labeled, as well as the rivers. There is a beautiful compass rose to the bottom left of the inset as well as a scale. The map, however, is dominated by the view of Olinda and Recife. This view depicts the siege of Recife and Olinda in 1630. This siege was a part of a larger war between Dutch forces, meaning the Dutch East India Company and the Dutch West India Company, against the Portuguese. In North America, the Dutch West India Company had established New Netherlands and New Amsterdam to further expand their trade empire. Eventually, hostilities would resume between the Dutch and the English, which were connected to events in Recife, and the English would conquer the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam and rename it New York.

The Dutch-Portuguese War revolved around trade, and that meant sugar in the West Indies and South America. The Dutch had tried to conquer Recife once before and failed. This engraving depicts their successful return and the beginning of their conquest in Brazil, although that conquest would be relatively short-lived, lasting only about 15 years. The view shows dozens of ships off the coast, some of which appear to be bombarding the coast. Several battalions of soldiers are shown on the coast, carrying rifles and Dutch flags. One of the coastal towns is ablaze. The topography of the land is depicted as well, along with trees and rivers. At the lower-right corner, a list of specifically-identified locations is given, allowing the viewer an even more precise understanding of the events taking place.

This map was created for Johann Ludwig Gottfried's Newe Welt und Americanishe Historien, which was published by Matthaeus Merian and was an abridgement of Theodore de Bry's Grands Voyages.


Matthäus Merian (September 22, 1593 - June 19, 1650), sometimes referred to as 'the Elder' to distinguish from his son, was an important Swiss engraver and cartographer active in the early to mid 17th century. Merian was born in Basel and studied engraving in the centers of Zurich, Strasbourg, Nancy and Paris. In time Merian was drawn to the publishing mecca of Frankfurt, where he met Johann Theodor de Bry, son of the famed publisher Theodor de Bry (1528 - 1598) . Merian and De Bry produced a number of important joint works and, in 1617, Merian married De Bry's daughter Maria Magdalena. In 1623 De Bry died and Merian inherited the family firm. Merian continued to publish under the De Bry's name until 1626. Around this time, Merian became a citizen of Frankfurt as such could legally work as an independent publisher. The De Bry name is therefore dropped from all of Merian's subsequent work. Of this corpus, which is substantial, Merian is best known for his finely engraved and highly detailed town plans and city views. Merian is considered one of the grand masters of the city view and a pioneer of the axonometric projection. Merian died in 1650 following several years of illness. He was succeeded in the publishing business by his two sons, Matthäus (1621 - 1687) and Caspar (1627 - 1686), who published his great works, the Topographia and Theatrum Eruopeaum, under the designation Merian Erben (Merian Heirs). Merian daughter, Anna Maria Sibylla Merian, became an important naturalist and illustrator. Today the German Travel Magazine Merian is named after the famous engraver. Learn More...

Theodore de Bry (1528 - March 27, 1598) was an important publisher active in the mid to late 16th century. De Bry was born in 1528 in Liege, then a Prince-Bishopric and thus independent of neighboring nations. The De Bry family were accomplished jewelers and copperplate engravers and, following the family tradition, Theodore apprenticed in these fields under his grandfather Thiry de Bry senior (? - 1528), and later under his father, Thiry de Bry junior (1495 - 1590). To avoid growing religious strife in the region Theodore de Bry left Liege for the more tolerant Strasburg. Shortly afterwards, in 1577, he moved again to Antwerp and, in 1580 to London, where he became well known for his engraving skills. It was either in Antwerp or in London that De Bry befriended the English publisher and editor of traveler's tales Richard Hakluyt. Inspired by Hakluyt's work, De Bry began to collect travelers' tales, particularly of voyages to New World. His most prominent acquisition was most likely the letters and papers of the French painter and mapmaker Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues discussing a disastrous attempt by French Huguenots to colonize parts of Florida. Around, 1588 De Bry moved to Frankfurt where he began his own publishing firm. Among De Bry's earliest and most prominent publications are his Grands Voyages, a multivolume compilation of travelers' tales that included the work of Le Moyne as well as some of the earliest published depictions of the North American mainland. The firm also published various other works including an important account of early English attempts to colonize Virginia with illustrations by John White. De Bry died in Frankfurt on March 27, 1598, having never left the shores of Europe, though his name was associated throughout Europe with tales of travel and adventure. Theodore de Bry was succeeded by his son John-Theodore (1560 - 1623) who continued the publishing firm until his own death in 1623. Learn More...


Merian,M., Newe Welt und Americanishe Historien, (Frankfurt) 1655.    


Very good. Blank on verso.