1721 De Wit Map of Northwest Spain: Old Castile, Leon, Galicia, Biscay, Navarre
Regnorum Castellae Veteris, Legionis, et Gallaeciae principatuumq Biscaiae, et Asturiarum Accuratissima Descriptio.
1721 (undated) 20.5 x 23 in (52.07 x 58.42 cm)
1 : 1400000
This is a scarce c.1721 map of northwest Spain by Frederik De Wit. The map depicts the northern divisions under the Crown of Castile, including the part of the Kingdom of Leon, the Kingdom of Castile, the Principality of Asturias, the Kingdom of Galicia and the Lordship of Biscay. This region is also an important stop on the medieval pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostella. It also includes parts of Portugal. The entire map is depicted in extraordinary detail, offering both topographical and political information, with forests and mountains beautifully rendered in profile.
A beautifully engraved title cartouche in the top right quadrant features the coats of arms of Galicia, Castile and Biscay held up by three cherubs. A fourth cherub holds up a blank coat of arms. The map was issued by Covens and Mortier and printed shortly following their 1721 acquisition of De Wit's plates from Maria De Wit.
Frederik de Wit (1629 - 1706) was a Dutch Golden Age cartographer active in the second half of the 17th and the early 18th centuries. De Wit was born of middle class Protestant stock in the western Netherlandish town of Gouda. He relocated to Amsterdam sometime before 1648, where he worked under Willem Blaeu. His first attributed engraved map, a plan of Haarlem for Antonius Sanderus' Flandria Illustrata, was issued around this time. He struck out on his own in 1654. The first chart that De Wit personally both drew and engraved was most likely his 1659 map of Denmark, REGNI DANIÆ Accuratissima delineatio Perfeckte Kaerte van ‘t CONJNCKRYCK DENEMARCKEN. His great wall map of the world and most famous work, Nova Totius Terrarum Orbis Tabula appeared one year later. Following the publication of his wall map De Wit quickly rose in prominence as a both cartographer and engraver. He married Maria van der Way in 1661 and through her became a citizen of Amsterdam in 1662. Around this time he also published his first major atlas, a composite production ranging in size from 17 to over 150 maps and charts. Other atlases and individual maps followed. In 1689 De Wit was granted at 15 year Privilege by the Dutch States General. The Privilege was a kind of early copyright that protected his exclusive rights to print and publish his maps. He was recognized with the honorific 'Good Citizen' in 1694. De Wit died in 1706 after which his wife Maria continued publishing his maps until about 1710. Though De Wit did have a son, Franciscus, he had no interest in the map trade, being a prosperous stockfish merchant. Instead, on her own retirement, Maria sold most De Wit maps and plates at a public auction. Most were acquired by Pieter Mortier and laid the groundwork for the 1721 rise of Covens and Mortier, the largest Dutch cartographic publishing house of the 18th century.
Covens and Mortier (1721 - c. 1862). The Amsterdam publishing firm of Covens and Mortier was the successor to the extensive publishing empire built by Frenchman Pierre Mortier (1661 - 1711). Upon Mortier's death in 1711 his firm was taken over by his son, Cornelius Mortier (1699 - 1783). Cornelius married the sister of Johannes Covens (1697 - 1774) in 1821 and, partnering with his brother in law, established the Covens and Mortier firm. Under the Covens and Mortier imprint, Cornelius and Pierre republished the works of the great 17th and early 18th century Dutch and French cartographers De L'Isle, Allard, Jansson, De Wit, and Ottens among others. They quickly became one of the largest and most prolific Dutch publishing concerns of the 18th century. The firm and its successors published thousands of maps over a 120 year period from 1721 to the mid-1800s. During their long lifespan the Covens and Mortier firm published as Covens and Mortier (1721-1778), J. Covens and Son (1778 - 94) and Mortier, Covens and Son (1794 - c. 1862).
Very good. Overall age toning. Minor wear along original centerfold. Minor creasing. Some spotting.