Copper engraved map from Merian’s Theatrum Eurpaeum, dedication to Christopher Columbus, two roundels showing north and south polar regions, ocean decorated with ships and sea monsters, central vertical fold, overall size 385 x 325mm, Frankfurt, 1638
A strong impression of Merian’s edition of Blaeu’s famous map of the world, also using the Mercator projection and adding German gothic script under the title and within the map. The oceans are decorated with numerous ships and sea monsters and there is a large note about Columbus and the discovery of the New World in place of modern day Canada. To the south a large mythical landmass, Magallanica, spreads across the south encompassing Antarctica and Australasia. New Guinea is attached to Magallanica but partially mapped. Tierra del Fuego is separated from the landmass but pre-dates the discovery New Zealand. North America is separated from Asia by a narrow Strait of Anian. The East Coast is still very primitive, whereas on the West Coast California is shown as a peninsula. Korea however is shown as an island, next to vague Japan and an oversized Philippines. In Europe, the prospect of an open Northeast Passage to the Pacific is still prominently shown, with the coastlines of Nova Zembla, etc., still only partially charted.
Matthäus Merian, the famous Swiss publisher and engraver, began his career in Zürich where he learned the art of copperplate engraving. Merian went on to study and work in various cities throughout France. In 1616 Merian moved to Frankfurt to work for the publisher Johann Theodor de Bry. Merian later married de Bry’s daughter. He was also the father of Maria Sibylla Merian, one of the greatest natural history artists of the late 17th and early 18th centuries.