A FINE EXAMPLE OF GREUTER’S GREAT TERRESTRIAL GLOBE
[Rome], Mattaeus Greuter, 1632. Large engraved terrestrial globe (49 cm diameter) on a brass spindle and ebony-stained wooden base, with 2 sets of 12 half-gores running from 80&730;N to 80&730;S and 2 polar callottes over a plaster-covered papier mâché sphere, unstained wooden horizon and meridian rings, both covered with manuscript paper rings. There are 4 cartouches with arms, figures and navigational instruments (and a depiction of the globe itself); 4 compass roses; two mythological figures and a sea monster; and numerous ships. Partly coloured in outline by a contemporary hand.
One of the largest and most accurate terrestrial globes produced before 1650, serving to launch Greuter’s short career as Italy’s leading globe maker. Though mostly based on Blaeu’s largest globe (state 1c of c.1618 or state 2 of 1622), it is more than just a copy. Greuter gives a much more detailed and more accurate depiction of Tierra del Fuego and also reflects the 1624 establishment of a Dutch colony in the present-day New England by labelling it “Nieu Nederland.” Not intending his globe as a navigational instrument, he also omitted Blaeu’s rhumb lines. Lake Ontario is depicted fairly well, but the other Great Lakes are merged into one enormous body. The Solomon Islands and The Solomon Islands and northern coast of New Guinea, explored by Jacob Le Maire and Willem Schouten in 1616, are depicted (as is “Willem Schouten Eylandt”). Like Blaeu’s globe, it indicates the hypothetical coast of the still elusive Antarctica (the ephemeral Dutch sightings of Australia were not to solidify for another decade, but Antarctica shows a northward extension approximately in its place).
In the Pacific, a sea god riding on a spouting whale plays a lyre, while a nearby mermaid blows a shell trumpet. The cartouche around the note to the reader (the text used as the “title” in the present description) is flanked by a man with a spade and woman with a whip, together holding an armillary sphere. That around the note on the determination of longitude is flanked by two Ottomans, one with a quadrant and the other with a cross-staff. They both look up at an image of the globe itself, in its four-legged stand. These two cartouches are mirror image copies of Blaeu’s, and the texts are based on Blaeu’s (the former slightly revised and latter abbreviated in the middle). The scrollwork cartouches around the note on discoveries and around Greuter’s new dedication (to Count Jacobo Boncompagni of Aquino) are new, the former with garlands of fruit and the latter topped by the dedicatee’s arms. The text of the former is partly based on Blaeu’s, but rearranged and with additions and omissions (Greuter’s reference to “Cathaiæ et China” is new; both note Henry Hudson’s discoveries). The paper on the horizon ring is drawn and lettered in manuscript, as usual. Although smaller than Blaeu’s globe (68 cm), Greuter’s is nearly as large as Van Langren’s (1589) and Hondius’s (1613), and larger than any other globe produced in the Netherlands at the time.
Blaeu produced his globe in 1617, but revised it soon after to include Le Maire’s new discoveries in Tierra del Fuego and New Guinea. He rendered Tierra del Fuego in three different forms, the last in the globes issued c.1618 and later. While Greuter clearly copied most of Blaeu’s globe, he renders Tierra del Fuego more accurately than any of the three Blaeu versions. The closest possible model is Hondius’s 1629 map (Koeman & V.d. Krogt II, p. 604, map 9950:2A.1, with a small illustration).
Greuter (1566?-1638), originally from Strasbourg, went via Lyon and Avignon to Rome, where he set up (c.1615?) as a cartographic engraver and, beginning with the present globe in 1632, as a globe maker. No other globe maker of his day successfully competed with the greatest masters of the Dutch Golden Age. He followed the present terrestrial globe with a celestial globe of the same size and a 26.5 cm pair, all in 1636. When he died in 1638, his plates went to the De Rossi family, who revised and reprinted the 49 cm globes in that year. They were still selling them, revised again, in 1695.
The stand has four turned legs supporting the horizon ring, with cross-pieces (without a base plate) connecting them and holding the turned central support for the meridian ring. The horizon ring is round. There is no hour ring or pointer. The manuscript paper ring covering the wooden horizon ring may be an eighteenth-century addition (the literature records copies with brass meridian rings and wooden ones, the latter both plain and with manuscript paper rings). Otherwise the globe and stand appear to be complete and original, though the manuscript horizon ring has an additional note dated 1712. The British Isles, the Holy Roman Empire, Antarctica and several regions in North and South America, Africa and Asia are coloured in outline in orange, also used for the tropics and polar circles and to highlight certain features in the colouring of the decoration.
With a few cracks unobtrusively repaired, but generally in fine condition. An earlier owner had painted over most of the sea and even parts the land in blue, which luckily preserved the surface of the globe remarkably well. This blue and the darkened varnish have now been removed, revealing the globe in its remarkably well-preserved original state. One of the greatest and most accurate globes of the first half of the seventeenth century.
Dekker, pp. 344-347; V.d. Krogt, Globi Neerlandici, pp. 211-213; V.d. Krogt, Old Globes, Gre 4 & 5; Stevenson II, pp. 54-62, 261-263; World in your Hands 4.13; Younge, Early Globes, pp. 30-31; cf. Welt in Händen VII/1 (1695 ed.); not in Fauser, Ältere Erd- und Himmelsgloben in Bayern.