DONCKER, Hendrik (1625/26-1699). De Zee-Atlas Ofte Water-Waereld, Vertoonende Alle De Zee-Kusten Van Het Bekende Deel Des Aerd-Bodems. Amsterdam: Henrick Doncker, 1666 [but 1663/4].

$ 180,000.00

Folio (20 2/8 x 13 2/8 inches). Index listing 20 charts. Engraved title-page, exceptionally fine double-page engraved world map "Nova Totius Terrarum Orbis Tabula…" by De Wit with an elaborate allegorical border in full contemporary hand-colour and the hemispheres with contemporary hand-colour in outline, and 27 fine double-paged charts with contemporary hand-colouring in outline, occasionally HEIGHTENED IN GOLD, all mounted on guards (some light browning, occasional minor spotting and a few pale stains). Original publisher's Dutch vellum, each cover gilt decorated in panels with an elaborate central arabesque, the smooth spine decorated in gilt in six compartments with five gilt Tudor roses, all gilt edges.

Provenance: Christopher Henry Beaumont Pease, Lord Wardington (1924-2005), Library of Important Atlases and Geographies, his sale Sothebys' 18th October 2005, lot 141.

First published in 1659, this is an early and intermediate state of Doncker's magnificent and celebrated Sea-Atlas: twenty of the superb sea charts are from Koeman's Don 2, the earliest example of the Zee-Atlas collated by Koeman and dated to 1660. The pair of charts of the Indian Ocean have engraved titles. Six additional charts, which were originally published in 1660, are dated 1661 (Don 3). Koeman's chart 9 "Pas-Caart van de Middelandsche Zee" has been replaced by the pair of charts of the Mediterranean introduced in 1664 edition (Don 7).

A bookseller in Amsterdam from the age of 22, Doncker ran an extremely successful business for more than fifty years: a publisher of the "most popular sets of maritime works published in Amersterdam during the Golden Age" (Koeman), including pilot guides, sea atlases, and textbooks on the art of navigation. Doncker was the first cartographer to publish a sea atlas after Arnold Colom's publications in 1654 and 1658. Although his Sea-Atlas is similar to the publications of Van Loon, Goos, and Lootsman, Doncker's charts were original, frequently corrected and improved and so were the most up-to-date in the second half of the 17th-century. Koeman IV Don 2, 3, 6, 7 and 8a, pages 152-155.

Truusje Goedings, renowned expert in Dutch colourists of the 17th-century writes of this copy: "Though soberly, this copy has a de-luxe colouring: the title-page, decorative world map and almost all charts were touched with gold in tiny details, sometimes so minuscule that it is hardly visible. Compass roses, boats, and in decorations around cartouches are touched with trifle bits of gold. The title-page not only has gold on the helm, in tiny speckles on the wings of the mermaid, on the celestial globe, and the stick there-under, but also traces of it along the edges of the red curtain, and on the boats. The world map by De Wit (1660) was treated very decoratively in bright and lively colours. Colours on charts and their decorations were applied sparingly. Obviously a more sober type of de-luxe colouring was applied.

"As a whole the colouring has a somewhat old-fashioned character, much like the way it was done in general in the forties and fifties. This, of course, fits Doncker's approach as a thorough publisher combining scientific aims and practical use. He was interested in constant updating, not in luxury. Precisely for this reason he was commercially surpassed by far by Pieter Goos who published a very de luxe sea atlas especially meant for the shore, for offices and collectors.

"A de-luxe colouring for a complete Doncker atlas is rare. The typical Dutch atlas binding in gilt vellum, gilt edges, has been done very expertly and corresponds with the de-luxe character of the colouring. Both might have been cared for by the publisher to order.

"The colouring of this atlas is much in the style of the illuminator Frans Koerten (1604 - 1668), who was around the middle of the 17th century the most famous Dutch colourist. He must have had a larger workshop for all sorts of colouring, ranging from sober and simple to very de-luxe. The Blaeu firm was a regular customer. One of his assistants was map-colourist Johannes van Keulen (died 1689), who became his son-in-law and took over his business after his death. With documentary evidence a de-luxe Blaeu-edition and some other works could be ascribed to Koerten. He himself will have done the de-luxe work, especially in the later years of his career. His style is characterized by a rich and bright decorative palette, not so much chique but careful and pleasant to the eye. Details as plants, fruitguirlandes etc. are never treated hastily but are worked up decoratively. Red is often contrasted with orange and/or a lighter blue and applied rather thick. Large legends in cartouches are often kept completely white. Gold is often applied in thin parallel lines instead of flat surfaces. The white of the paper is used and often stressed with a layer of lead white - which has oxidized sometimes to grey. Much of these characteristics can be found in this atlas, especially on the very decoratively coloured worldmap". (see Koerten and his portrait Kunst in Kaart 1989, esp.p.119 ).

From the distinguished library of Lord Wardington whose collection of Atlases was unique: "a panoply of the history of cartography and of great mapmakers" (Andrew Phillips "An Appreciation", Sotheby's sale catalogue). Catalogued by Kate Hunter