A good example of Claes Janszoon Visscher’s “Twelve Caesars” world map, this copper plate engraving is one of four world maps with decorative panels issued by Visscher between 1614 and 1652. This version of the map was first published in 1639, based on Mercator’s projection, and in the classic Dutch style of Blaeu and Janson. Our example is the final state of that map, dated 1652.
The map is embellished with scenes of twelve Roman emperors mounted on horses in full battle gear – thus often called the “Twelve Caesars Map.” In each corner are allegorical representations of the four continents. Along the sides are six costumed figures showing the mode of dress in each of regions (Europeans, Asiatici, Africani, North Americans, South Americans, and Magellanici), and including eight city views (Rome, Amsterdam, Jerusalem, Tunis, Mexico City, Havana, Pernambuco, and Bahio Todos Santos).
The cartography is very up to date for the period, showing the discovery of Hudson’s Bay and the course of the St. Lawrence River. The Straits of le Maire and Magellan are shown with the massive Magellanica Sive Terra Australis Incognita (unknown Southern lands still prominently appearing). The title “Beach” is shown as the northernmost portion of the continent that would become Australia. The engraver of the map is not known, but Shirley* surmises that it is likely the work of Pieter Goos.
We invite you to view this map in person at our Georgetown gallery. More information, including the maps condition and price, cane be found on our website here.
*Shirley, R.”Mapping of the World,” #350.