One of only four known examples of Geelkerken’s masterpiece of the Dutch ‘Golden Age’ of cartography
By GEELKERCKEN, Arnold and Nicolaes, 1670
Terrae Sanctae seu Terrae Promissionis nova descriptio.
- Author: GEELKERCKEN, Arnold and Nicolaes
- Publication place: Amsterdam
- Publisher: Frederick de Wit
- Publication date: c.1670
- Physical description: Large engraved wall map on ten sheets joined, inset maps of Mesopotamia and the Holy Land, and Egypt and the Holy Land to left and right of title, numerous vignettes to borders depicting scenes from the Old and New Testaments, borders on the left and right of the map each show five scenes from the Old and New Testaments respectively, the lower border displays a dedication to Christian Lubens, addressed to the reader by Nicolaas Geelkerken in Latin and Dutch. There are two large engravings showing Adam and Eve and the last judgement, and a frieze of ten engravings with objects from the Temple, interspersed with figures of apostles. Some minor spotting and browning, and partial damage to top-left margin, but in otherwise excellent condition.
- Dimensions: 1075 by 1975mm (42.25 by 77.75 inches).
- Inventory reference: 2277
The map was the work of Nicolaes van Geelkercken (c.1585–1656) and his brother Arnold van Ssherpenseel (also known as Arnold Arnoldi — and upon the present map as Arnold Geelkercken) (c.1570–1602). Little is known of either man’s early life; we know from text upon the present map that Arnold travelled to the Holy Land at some point in the early 1590s; he next appears in Venice in the mid 1590s working as an engraver of maps and scientific instruments for Giovanni Antonio Magini. In about 1600 Arnold was joined in Italy by his brother Nicolaes. It is during this time that the brothers began work on the present map. Unfortunately, the work remained unfinished upon the death of Arnold in 1602. Following his brother’s passing Nicolaes left Italy and settled in Amsterdam in 1603; in 1612 he set up shop as an engraver and publisher in Leiden, briefly moving back to Amsterdam in 1613–1616, before eventually settling permanently in Leiden in 1617. It is whilst in Leiden, with the help of Philpp Clüver and Petrus Bertius, that he turned his attention to the map of the Holy Land, with the finished work being published in 1621.
We are only able to trace three institutional examples of the map — a first edition held in the Rijksmuseum dated 1621 and bearing the imprint of Nicolaes Geelkercken; an example in the Bibliotheque Nationale de France dated 1631 and bearing Janssonius’s imprint; and a third — similar to the present map — undated but bearing the imprint of Federick De Wit also housed at the BNF in Paris.