Copper engraving with later hand colouring. One of the most decorative maps of the Iberian peninsula Stunning carte a figures map with side panels depicting costumes of Spanish gentlemen and women labelled Hispani, Castali, Biscali, Lusitani, Granada or the left and right Hispaniae Faeminae, Castiliae Faeminae, Biscalae Faeminae, Lusitaniae Faeminae, Granadensae Faeminae. Key with Spainish miles and German miles below it and the publicati At the top is a series of town views of Madrid, Seville, Lisbon, Valladolid, Granada, Toledo, Barcelona, Burgos and Cadiz. English text on verso. Overall size: 55.8cms x 42.7cms; image size: 529mm x 408mm. Thread margins augmented with old paper to aid mounting and framing. Repairs on verso to bottom of centrefold. Old strengthening of centrefold on verso 15cms from top . Minute repaired tear top of margin left of centrefold on verso, not visible from front; 13cms strengthening from bottom of centrefold, to right of the backstrip. Please examine image 2 carefully, there is a little discolouring and creasing on front to the left of Herborano (island to the right of the Straights of Gybralter) . Stunning map.
Until his late thirties, John Speed was a tailor by trade but his passion for history and map-making led him to gain a patron in Sir Fulke Greville, the poet and statesman, who found him a post in the customs and helped subsidize his map-making, giving him “full liberty to express the inclination of my mind”. He became aquainted with the publisher William Camden, whose descriptive text was used by Speed for most of the maps in his atlas “The Theatre of Empire of Great Britain” published most probably in 1612 although it bears the date 1611 on the main title page. The maps were engraved in Amsterdam by Jodocus Hondius, one of the foremost engravers of his time. Speed’s maps are unique historical documents of their time and the town plans featured on the maps are in most cases the first information we have of their early apppearance. Their artistry has guaranteed the collectability of these maps in the centuries that have followed. There are many fewer carte au figures maps as they were published in the Prospect. This map is from the ‘Prospect of the Most Famous Parts of the World’, produced in collaboration with George Humble to accompany the ‘Theatre’ in 1631.