This matching important pair of globes belongs to the largest pair ever made in Amsterdam in the first half of the 17th century. The fourth and third states respectively are the usual and most attractive combination to be found. Of this pair a good number has been secured in museums and private collections worldwide. It is a remarkable and rare opportunity to find such a fine quality set of globes these days.
The terrestrial globe, 1645/1648:
Signed in the advice to the reader:
“Guiljelmus Blaeu Auctor. Anno 1622”
The terrestrial globe is made up of 36 hand-coloured engraved half gores and two polar calottes, pasted onto a plaster sphere, with a detailed and inscribed cartouche to each hemisphere as called for by P. van der Krogt (state 4), the equatorial graduated and labelled every 10 degrees, each degree divided into thirds and alternately hand-coloured in red, blank and blue, the meridian similarly labelled and coloured, the prime meridian of Tenerife is used, the ecliptic graduated in individual days and the houses of the Zodiac similarly coloured, the tropics and polars hand-coloured red, the seas densely decorated with ships, sea monsters, wind-roses and shipping routes, the continents with mountains, rivers and towns named in Latin and decorated with animals, figures and monsters, the great wall of China represented pictorially, California shown as an island, the fictitious island labelled Frisland (unlike that in Van der Krogt).
Fourth State (circa 1645-1648)
The celestial globe, 1640:
Signed in the advice to the reader:
“Guiljelmus Blaeuw”, dated in the cartouche 1640
The celestial globe is made up of 24 hand-coloured engraved half gores, pasted on to a plaster sphere, with a detailed and inscribed cartouche headed by a portrait of Tycho Brahe and bearing the signature Guiljelmus Blaeuw as called for by P. van der Krogt (state 3), the axis through the celestial pole, the equatorial graduated and labelled every 10 degrees, each degree divided into thirds, the ecliptic graduated in individual days of the houses of the Zodiac, labelled every ten days, each day divided into thirds, the constellations following the style established by Mercator and finely engraved, with text in Latin, Greek and Arabic giving alternative names, the stars are categorized to six levels of magnitude and are picked out in gold paint, nebulae are given a separate symbol and are indicated in notes without a cartouche, on an identical stand and hand-coloured engraved horizon carrying Julian and Gregorian calendars with Saints' days, houses of the Zodiac, the wind directions and degree scale.
Third state (after circa 1630).
Both globes on a parcel-gilt and grained imitating rosewood Dutch-style stand with four turned baluster supports above a circular moulded base with cross-stretcher resting on an oak wood triangular support and bun feet, the globe supported in a messing meridian with hour ring and pointer, the hand-coloured engraved horizon carrying Julian and Gregorian calendars with Saints' days, houses of the Zodiac, the wind directions and degree scale.
Willem Janszoon Blaeu.
Willem Janszoon Blaeu (1571-1638) is regarded as the father of modern western globe-making. Not only did his firm really kick-start globes as a viable commercial enterprise, during his forty-year career his globes are amongst the very finest and most beautiful ever published.
Over the winter of 1595/6 Blaeu stayed with the renowned Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe (1546-1601) at his observatory in Urienborg. Brahe (whose portrait crowns the cartouche to the celestial globe) was the leading astronomer of his day and the first in the West to produce an entirely new star catalogue since Ptolemy.
In 1598/9 Blaeu settled in Amsterdam. It was here that he established his hugely successful publishing company which, throughout the course of the seventeenth century, would issue not only globes but maps, books, atlases and planetaria.
A strong competitor of Blaeu was the Hondius family from Amsterdam (active between 1585-1650). These 68cm globes were made in response to the 53cm pair issued by the Hondius firm in 1613. With this pair Blaeu wanted to underline his reputation as the greatest globe manufacturer in the world. Above all, the Blaeu maps have a higher degree of accuracy. The quality of precise engraving and the beautiful hand-colouring is unsurpassed. He used high quality handmade paper to make gores which were than laid in a globe form. Copper engravings of the various land masses inscribed to detail were carefully prepared an printed (mirror image) onto the paper. The globe itself was made of sturdy cardboard an covered with gesso. They would remain the largest globes in production for over 70 years, until Vincenzo Maria Coronelli (1650-1717) issued his 110cm pair in 1688.
Republished three times during the seventeenth century, these globes, printed by Willem's son Joan Blaeu (c. 1596-1673) date to circa 1645/48 (terrestrial) and 1630 (celestial), incorporate important discoveries from the voyages or LeMaire, Button, William Baffin amongst others. Most of these additions were not worked into Blaeu's smaller globes: an indication that he considered this large pair his most important work. As van der Krogt states "this globe pair confirmed Blaeu's reputation as the greatest globe manufacturer in the world".
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