1662 Joan Blaeu Map of Oxfordshire

Oxonium Comitatus, Vulgo Oxfordshire. - Main View

1662 Joan Blaeu Map of Oxfordshire


A Sumptuous Example of the Classic Dutch Map of Oxfordshire, with the University's College Arms


Oxonium Comitatus, Vulgo Oxfordshire.
  1662 (undated)     15 x 19.75 in (38.1 x 50.165 cm)     1 : 150000


This is a 1662 Johannes Blaeu map of Oxfordshire, one of the most decorative maps of Oxfordshire and the most desirable Dutch map of a British county. The geography is derived from Speed's map, with the map centered on the city of Oxford, dividing the county into its Hundreds and showing its parks and towns. Blaeu's map shines in its decorative elements: The cartouche, which incorporates both the title and the scales, is flanked by two English scholars in formal garb. The British Royal arms are displayed front and center, but the map is cornered with the arms of King Alfred (with the dubious claim that the king founded Oxford,) the arms of the County, and the insignia of the University itself. The map is bordered with sixteen coats of arms belonging to the University's Colleges. The map is embellished with rich contemporary color.
Publication History and Census
This is among the maps added to Blaeu's atlases by Willem Blaeu's son and heir, Joannes (or Joan) Blaeu; consequently it is both one of the larger Blaeu folio maps (as the younger Blaeu was using larger plates for his new maps) and one of the scarcer Blaeu atlas maps (as the younger Blaeu's maps appeared in fewer editions of the atlas.) There are seventeen separate examples of this map listed in OCLC, of which only three are from the French edition of the Atlas Maior (from which this example came.)


Joan (Johannes) Blaeu (September 23, 1596 - December 21, 1673) was a Dutch cartographer active in the 17th century. Joan was the son of Willem Janszoon Blaeu, founder of the Blaeu firm. Like his father Willem, Johannes was born in Alkmaar, North Holland. He studied Law, attaining a doctorate, before moving to Amsterdam to join the family mapmaking business. In 1633, Willem arranged for Johannes to take over Hessel Gerritsz's position as the official chartmaker of the Dutch East India Company, although little is known of his work for that organization, which was by contract and oath secretive. What is known is his work supplying the fabulously wealthy VOC with charts was exceedingly profitable. Where other cartographers often fell into financial ruin, the Blaeu firm thrived. It was most likely those profits that allowed the firm to publish the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, sive, Atlas Novus, their most significant and best-known publication. When Willem Blaeu died in 1638, Johannes, along with his brother Cornelius Blaeu (1616 - 1648) took over the management of the Blaeu firm. In 1662, Joan and Cornelius produced a vastly expanded and updated work, the Atlas Maior, whose handful of editions ranged from 9 to an astonishing 12 volumes. Under the brothers' capable management, the firm continued to prosper until the 1672 Great Amsterdam Fire destroyed their offices and most of their printing plates. Johannes Blaeu, witnessing the destruction of his life's work, died in despondence the following year. He is buried in the Dutch Reformist cemetery of Westerkerk. Johannes Blaeu was survived by his son, also Johannes but commonly called Joan II, who inherited the family's VOC contract, for whom he compiled maps until 1712. Learn More...


Blaeu, W. and Blaeu, J., Le Grand Atlas, (Amsterdam: Blaeu) 1662.     In 1662 Joan Blaeu published his masterwork, which has been described as 'the greatest and finest atlas ever published' (Verwey, 1952): his monumental, eleven-volume Atlas Maior. This contained nearly six hundred maps, more than two hundred in excess of the Blaeus' mainstay the Atlas Novus. The former work already being renowned for the quality and beauty of its maps, Blaeu not only would add copious material but would improve the sophistication of his work: many of the newly-added maps utilized larger-sized presses and sheets, and the artistry applied to the engravings was often far superior to that of the earlier maps in the atlas - many of which by now were thirty, and some more than fifty years old. Blaeu's Atlas Maior was published from 1662 to 1672, consisting of some 594 maps compiled into upwards of 9 volumes with some editions containing as many as 12 volumes. This triumphant work's publishing life was cut violently short when, in 1672, the Blaeu's mammoth workshop was destroyed by fire; surviving stock would be sold at auction between 1674 and 1677, occasionally appearing under the imprint of later Dutch printers such as Pieter Schenk and Pieter Mortier. The maps added to the Atlas Maior, owing to their tragically short publishing life, are among the hardest-to-find of the Blaeu maps.


Very good condition. Wide margins and rich contemporary color.


OCLC 165860877. Van der Krogt 2, 321.