World Map, 1611, by Pieter van den Keere (Dutch, c. 1570–1646)
Originally published in The Image of the World by Peter Whitfield (Pomegranate, 1994)
Dutch engraver Pieter van den Keere’s massive twelve-sheet map was supposed to be wall mounted—a piece of art. Its border depicts fourteen cities and the rulers of seven nations. Eighteen stylized pairs of figures representing a span of cultures complete the frame. Inward, six female figures signify the continents, with Europe at the head.
The map itself may seem to favor ornate tableaux over navigation—that’s Peace being crowned by Victory in the Pacific—but actually includes the latest discoveries, necessary to stay competitive in the bustling Amsterdam publishing market. Not just a map, this visual encyclopedia was an armchair guide to the peoples and cultures of the seventeenth-century world.
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