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Carte aux figures . Copper engraving with later but not modern hand colouring. Overall sheet size:56cms x 43.2cms ;image size:533mm x 415mm. The map shows all of the 17 traditional provinces of the Netherlands, including the modern nations of the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. At the time this map was published the Eighty Years War (1568-1648) had not long ended during which the independent Dutch Republic (comprising the northern provinces) was engaged in a long battle against Spain, who controlled the southern provinces.
The borders of the map are adorned with vignettes including views of the cities of Amsterdam, Antwerp, Ghent, Middelburg, Groeningen, Zutphen, Utrectht and Atrecht, as well as images of various inhabitants of the Low Countries in costume. Bottom margin augmented with old paper (an old repair) as the margin diminishes to a thread beneath the neatline bottom right (nowhere does it cut into the neatline) and repairs a short split to right of centrefold; one black mark bottom left margin, little browning in right hand blank else very good condition.
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 Speed’s maps are unique historical documents of their time and the town plans featured on the maps are in most cases the first information we have of their early appearance. Their artistry has guaranteed the collectability of these maps in the centuries that have followed.