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A previously unrecorded state of de Wit's monumental wall map of Europe

Nova et Accurata Totius Europae Tabula
WIT, Frederick de
Frederick de Wit,
Publication place
Publication date
1700 [engraved c1660/63].
1210 by 1660mm. (47.75 by 65.25 inches).


Engraved wall map printed on six sheets, joined, letterpress description of Europe in Spanish at foot, incorporating a decorative woodcut initial, xylograph Latin title in a panel on slips at the top decorative border at the sides, fine original hand-colour, some restoration, a few repairs to tears and small holes.


The third edition of a rare and magnificent wall map of Europe, Turkey, and the entire Mediterranean Sea, at a scale of about 1:5,000,000, beautifully decorated and with 18 smaller views and maps. Madrid and Moscow (at the foot on either side) are plans, while the others are profiles or bird's-eye views.

Hollstein records only one other example of the present edition; a different issue, with the text in Latin and with views of Nürenberg and Vienna instead of the maps of Madrid and Moscow. Hollstein locates two copies of the 1672 edition, but it would appear that no example of the first, 1660/63, has survived. The decorations for the present map have been extensively revised from the 1672 edition, with a different title-strip and drapery instead of garlands for the geodesic cartouche, to which de Wit has added putti, coats-of-arms, and supporting figures below. De Wit's additions also show some revisions to the cartographic content, for example in the eastern Arctic. The other known example of the 1700 edition is rather damaged and is lacking de Wit's signature at the end of the title, and the title to the view of "Cracovia".

Frederick de Wit (1629/30-1706) and Nicolas Visscher took over Blaeu and Jansson's roles as the leading Dutch cartographers in the last quarter of the seventeenth century. De Wit's wall maps in particular have been called "the most beautiful of the seventeenth century" (Bagrow). The present map shows the coats-of-arms of "Germania" (oddly represented by the Imperial eagle with the impaled arms of Austria and Castile), Spain (represented by the arms of the long-dead King Charles I, that is, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V ), France, "Anglia" (with the arms of England quartered with those of Scotland and Ireland), Denmark, Sweden, Poland, and Portugal. All of these decorative shields were added for this edition.

The map owes its basic concept, approximate format, stereographic projection, and note on geodesy to Willem Janszoon Blaeu's 1608 'Nova et Acurata Totius Europæ', which was published in at least seven editions prior to 1657. However, de Wit's first edition was more directly based on Joan Blaeu's 'Europæ Nova Descriptio', which Blaeu printed from the revised plates of Hondius' map of 1613 or later and which did not copy the cartographic content of the 1608 map. All three show a grid of parallels and meridians, with the prime meridian running through Tenerife. De Wit's map extends further north (to about 75° N latitude) than Blaeu's of 1608, including even Bear Island (Bjornoya) in Svalbard. The city views and maps are not based on Blaeu's. De Wit is believed to have first published his series of four continental maps between 1660 and 1663 to accompany his world map, but revised them in 1672, and again for the present third edition in 1700. De Wit's title cartouche with figures, at the foot of the main map, is wholly independent of his predecessors, and he made other changes in the decoration and cartographic content, as noted above. The present example, and that at the Amsterdam University Library, are both dated 1700 (at the foot of the main map), and we have noticed no differences in the six map sheets, title strip, or the four half sheets with 16 city views. However, the letterpress description of Europe in Latin in the Amsterdam example is replaced here with a Spanish translation (drop- title "Nueva Descripcion de la Europa" and imprint "En Amsterdam, en casa de Frederico de With, vive en el Calver-Straat ... en la emeña del Pascaart Blanco"). Moreover, the letterpress text in the Amsterdam copy is flanked by views of Nürnberg and Vienna (printed on separate pieces of paper mounted below the four half sheets with the other 16 views, eight on each side), while the present copy has instead maps of Madrid and Moscow (all four appeared in at least some copies of the 1672 edition). De Wit printed numerous city maps and views in this style, with six or eight to a sheet, matching egg and dart borders on the sides, and matching corner decorations. However, some of the plates were apparently adapted for use with the present wall map, because the maps of Madrid and Moscow are found at the top of a sheet of six, while their corner decorations in the present map are designed for their position at the foot of the column of views (in both versions, the map of Moscow departs from the style of the others in the placement of its name and panel).


Hollstein LIII, De Wit 83; J. Werner, Inde Witte Pascaert: Kaarten en Atlassen van Frederick de Wit uitgever te Amsterdam ca. 1630-1706 (Amsterdam: Universiteitsbibliothek, 1994) 19 (same copy; see also pp. 22-24 and 66); Frederik Caspar Wieder, ed., Monumenta cartographica (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1925-1933), 73, map 90 [1672 edition].