VISSCHER, Nicolaes II (1649-1702) [and others]. Atlas minor, sive geographia compendiosa qua orbis terrarum per paucas attamen novissimas tabulas ostenditura. Amsterdam: Nicolaes Visscher, [1696 or later].
2 volumes. Folio (532 x 335 mm). 6 engraved titles, including a general title by Gerard de Lairesse HEIGNTENED IN GOLD and 5 allegorical regional engraved titles, for the Low Countries (Germaniae inferior), by Lairesse, Europe, Asia, Africa, and America, these four from Blaeu's Atlas Major, the last three HEIGHTENED IN GOLD, the first 3 unsigned, the America title signed by the engraver T. Falck, 186 full-sheet or folding engraved maps by Visscher, all with EXCEPTIONALLY FINE HAND-COLOUR BY A MASTER COLOURIST, POSSIBLY A PUPIL OF THE CELEBRATED DIRK JANSZ. VAN SANTEN the maps colored in outline with cartouches, decorative borders, embellishments, and landmarks fully colored, most undated, three maps dated 1696, two dated 1694 and one dated 1656, most double-page, 13 folding (1 1/2 sheets and smaller), the maps variously numbered in ink at upper left, lower or upper right, and/or on versos (the two volumes separately numbered) mounted on guards throughout. Loosely inserted is a full-sheet view-plan of Purmer by I. Leupenius (uncolored). Publisher's blind-stamped dark brown goatskin over pasteboard (rebacked, restoration to corners and board edges, some rubbing).
Provenance: Henry Grier Bryant (1859-1932), explorer and geographer, president and benefactor of the Geographical Society of Philadelphia, bookplate.
AN EXCEPTIONALLY FINE composite atlas, WITH EXTRAORDINARY LAVISH AND MASTERLY HAND-COLOURING, in the style of the celebrated Dutch colourist Dirk Jansz. Van Santen (1637/38-1708), whose manner is signified by rich and exotic colour combinations, added elements such as flowers to clothing, marbling to masonry, all found here: "... van Santen applied transparent and opaque colours at the same time in both mixed and pure tints. He often painted the whole surface of th map or illustration, transforming the graphic light and dark contrasts into colour. To dark areas representing shadows, clothing pleats or the 'repoussoir', the foreground of a landscape, he applied his characteristic shiny varnish; this had the effect of brightening the colour. He devoted a great deal of attention to skies and horizons, frequently making use of the same colour progression...." (Goedings).
Atlases and books coloured by van Santen are found in the libraries of the most prominent collectors of the golden age of Dutch cartography "...Bibles and atlases, bound in deluxe bindings by Albert Magnus (1642-1689) and decorated by van Santen were considered gifts worthy of princes. Travellers and poets wrote about this work" (Goedings).
This magnificent atlas is of the series of large atlases compiled and sold by the Visscher family of art dealers and cartographers at the end of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. No two of the Visscher atlases seem to have been identical in content, and most contain, like this one, a selection of maps by the Visschers themselves as well as other cartographers. The present particularly extensive atlas, issued without the usual printed or manuscript index, was probably assembled and colored to order for a German or Dutch customer, the first volume being almost entirely devoted to Northern European maps.
The general contents are as follows:
1 celestial map by Ludovico Vlasblom after Johannes van Keulen,
3 world maps, consisting of two double-hemisphere maps, by Visscher (Shirley 406) and Carel Allard (Shirley 578), and Jacob Robyn's single hemisphere map on a projection centered on the North Pole (Shirley 582);
one map each of the North Pole (Jansson) and South Pole (unsigned, probably Jansson-Mercator);
160 European maps including Scandinavia (12), Germany, including present-day Austria and Switzerland (43), Low Countries (48), Britain (7), France (21), Spain and Portugal (5), Italy (12), Malta (1), and Eastern Europe (i.e, Russia, Livonia, Poland, Prussia, Hungary and Greece, 11);
6 maps of Asia,
4 of Africa,
and 10 maps of the Americas.
108 maps are by Nicolaes Visscher; the remainder are by Frederick de Wit (44), Hubert Jaillot (8), Carel Allard (7), Joan or J. and Cornelis Blaeu (6), Jan Jansson (2 or 3, see above), Gerard Valck (2), and one each by J. Robyn, Johannes van Keulen, J. Danckert, J. C. Berger, C. Specht, J. van Loon, and Johannes de Ram, plus an unsigned and unidentified map of the Cape of Good Hope.
The American maps consist of a general map of North and South America by Allard, Jaillot's individual maps of North America and South America (both dated 1694), Blaeu's map of Brazil, and 7 maps by Visscher, showing the northeastern tip of North America (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and the Gulf of St. Lawrence), the Eastern seaboard from Canada to the Carolinas, Novi Belgii (New England and Virginia, with an inset view of early Manhattan), the West Indies and surrounding landmasses, Jamaica, and Martinique.
The coloring of this copy, which is consistent throughout the atlas, is of an unusual somewhat somber palette emphasizing shades of dark green and purple. Visscher atlases of this scope, condition, and quality of coloring are RARE. Koeman lists 30 atlases published by the Visscher family from 1634 to after 1708; of these only two (Vis 27 and 28, both published by the widow of Nicolaes Visscher II) contain more maps than the present example. Goedings "Dirk Jansz. Van Santen...a survey" 1992. Catalogued by Kate Hunter