BLAEU, Willem (1571-1638) and Joannes BLAEU (1596-1673). "Novus Atlas Sinensis A Martino Martinio Soc. Iesu Descriptus Et Serenessimo Archidvci Leopoldo Gvilielmo Avstriaco Dedicatvs. Cum privilegio S.C. Maj. et Ordd. Foed. Belg. [Amsterdam: Joannes and Willem Blaeu, 1655].
Folio (21 x 14 inches). Engraved allegorical title-page with original hand-colour HEIGHTENED IN GOLD (creased, edges a bit frayed), 17 fine double-page engraved maps of Asia with original hand-colour in outline (2x1 with long tear crossing the text repaired in the margin at an early date, map of Japan a bit spotted as are some text leaves, one map with short closed tear, some lower margins with pale waterstains). Contemporary Dutch gilt panelled vellum over thin paste-board with yap fore-edges, all edges gilt (lacking two pairs of ties, lightly soiled but ATTRACTIVE).
First and only Dutch edition of volume VI from Blaeu's six-volume "Nieue Atlas", depicting the Chinese empire, its fifteen provinces, and Japan. This "Novus Atlas Sinensis" was compiled by the Italian Jesuit Martino Martini (1614 – 1661), and is the first atlas of China produced in the western world, the first comprehensive visually descriptive work on China with accompanying historical texts, perhaps the first true Sino-European publications, based as it was on Chinese land surveys, and was the first of very many illustrated works and translations of works about China in the 17th and 18th centuries.
"The seventeen maps are noteworthy not only for their accuracy, remarkable for the time, but also for their highly decorative carouches featuring vignettes depicting regional Chinese dress, activities and animals. Along with the maps, the volume contains 171 pages of Latin text by Martini comprising a preface on the Far East and descriptions of each province in China as well as the Liaodong and Korean peninsulas and Japan. Also included in the volume are two separately paginated works: Jacobus Golius's "De Regno Catayo Additamentum" (an addition on the Chinese reign) and Martini's "De Bello Tartarico Historia"(History concerning the Tartar War, 1654), both of which were also published as separate titles" (Marcia Reed and Paola Dematte China on Paper, The Getty Research Institute, 2007, page 188)
Martini set out for Asia in March 1640, "traveling initially to India, reaching Goa later that year, and then to China, reaching Hangzhou in 1643. After impressive missionary works - baptizing hundreds of converts in Hangzhou - martini was called back to Rome in 1650 to represent both the accomplishments of the Jesuit mission in China and its needs. En route to Rome, he landed in Amsterdam in 1654, where he met Blaeu, and they worked together to create the "Novus Atlas Sinensis". Martini had brought with him copies of Chinese atlases, among them Luo Hongxian's "Guangyu tu" (englarged terrestrial atlas, 1579), a Ming-dynasty atlas (based on the monumental Yuan-dynasty map compiled by Zhu Siben between 1311 and 1320) that included, apart from the general map of China, maps of the various provinces and border regions. Martini finally reache Rome at the end of 1655 but set out for China in 1657. He died in Hangzhou in 1661" (ibid.)
The Blaeu family firm was founded by Willem Janzoon Blaeu (1571-1638) in 1596. He was eventually joined by his sons, Cornelius (1616-1648) and Joannes (1596-1673). The firm became the most productive cartographic establishment in the Netherlands until it was destroyed by fire in 1672. The elder Blaeu initiated the great series of atlases that culminated in the "Atlas Maior", in which Joannes Blaeu incorporated much of the geographical knowledge bequeathed him by his father. Koeman 2:521A; Marcia Reed and Paola Dematte China on Paper, The Getty Research Institute, 2007,25.