Leen Helmink Antique Maps

Antique map of Holland by Visscher

Stock number: 18738

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Claes Janszoon Visscher (biography)
Frederick de Wit (biography)


Comitatus Hollandia

First Published

Amsterdam, 1630

This Edition



46.5 x 56.5 cms




Fifth copy known. The rarest and most decorative of all printed maps of Holland, of which only four copies are recorded. Very decorative borders. The author is unknown, presumably Claes Jansz Visscher.

3rd state with address of Frederick de Wit.

Blonk 'Hollandia Comitatus', Map 54, State 3.
Schilder 'Monumenta Cartographica Neerlandica', Vol. VI, map 74, State 3, as follows:

Schilder 74.11 First state, by an anonymous publisher, [c. 1630]

* No copy known. For a description see second state.

Schilder 74.2 Second state, by an anonymous publisher, [after 1635]

COMITATUS | HOLLAN | DIA - Scale: Miliaria Germanica com: / Gemeijne Duitsche mijlen [3=63
mm]; Horæ itineris / Uren gaens [4=60 mm] - [Amsterdam: by an anonymous publisher, after 1635] - 1 map : copper engraving and etching; 46.5 x 56.5 cm

The title is in an oval scrollwork cartouche in the North Sea (OCEANUS GERMANICUS / De Noord Zee). This cartouche is crowned by the coat of arms of the Prince of Orange, placed in front of a curtain. To the right the cartouche is decorated with a couple of costumed figures. An obvious erasure to the left of the cartouche deliberately removed figures on that side (and accidentally part of a ship as well), but we do not know why. In the Zuiderzee (De Zuyder Zee) a cartouche contains a legend of the symbols, and on the front side of the plinth is the Scala miliarium / Mylperck with two bar scales. The sea is enlivened by ships and two compass roses. West is at the top.

The map maker presents this map of Holland in a special way: the map image is bordered by an oval fence of wattle-work, representing the so-called 'Holland in de tuin' ['Holland in the Garden']. The 'garden' is closed at the front by a gate which is decorated by the coat of arms of Holland (the lion, however, is in mirror image). Behind the gate the Maid of Holland keeps watch. On the posts of the fence hang the coats of arms of Holland's towns. In the top corners are oval wrought-iron medallions with the portraits of Frederik Hendrik, Prince of Orange (to the left) and his wife Amalia van Solms (to the right). Towards the centre are views of AMSTELREDAM and DORDRECHT, the bottom corners are occupied by views of the CURIA HOLLANDIÆ (to the left) and HAERLEM. This is the first time that town views on maps of Holland are not shown in oval or rectangular frames. In this way the etcher created a much better spatial effect. Three of the four town views (all except Amsterdam) are based on those engraved by Pieter van den Keere for Guicciardini's Description de touts les Pays-Bas (Arnhem, 1613).

Who was the creator of this beautiful map? All four town views had already appeared on maps published by Claes Jansz Visscher: Haarlem and Dordrecht derive from Visscher's Leo Hollandicus of 1622, the Court of Holland from Visscher's 1630 map of Holland, and Amsterdam appears on both maps. This may point to the creator of this map being in Visscher's workshop. But the engraving and etching themselves are not from Visscher's hand. The map was obviously made to honour Frederik Hendrik, who had much military success as a conqueror of towns. Claes Jansz Visscher had already made a map of Holland in the shape of a lion to honour Frederik Hendrik's brother Maurits. Perhaps Visscher wanted to pay similar hommage to Frederik Hendrik, who had 'locked' the ‘Garden of Holland' with his military successes.

The geographical content obviously follows the mapping of Balthasar Florisz van Berckenrode. The engraver, however, did not simply use a folio-sized map of Holland such as Henricus Hondius's Comitatus Hollandia of 1629, but followed the original wall map of Van Berckenrode published by Willem Jansz Blaeu in 1621. The drawing of the southwestern part of the map corresponds in every detail with the 1621 wall map, and this 1621 wall map differs from the subsequent states of it and from the folio-sized maps. For the small part of Frie land that does not appear on the Van Berckenrode/Blaeu wall map of 1621, the Claes Jansz Visscher 1630 map of Holland served as the model.

With the aid of the geographical content we can estimate the date of this map. As Visscher's 1630 folio map of the province of Holland was still based on Van Deventer's map, the map under discussion must be dated after 1630. The map was already published before 1637, how ever, for in that year Visscher published a new edition of the Van Berckenrode/Blaeu wall map with extensive changes in the map image of the southwestern part. It would not have been logical to use the out-of-date version of the 1621 wall map after it had been updated. The second state of the map has to be dated after 1635 because all the great lakes in North-Holland have been reclaimed. (With special thanks to Dick Blonk for giving me access to his research.)

Copy: * Amsterdam, Rijksprentenkabinet (Atlas Ottens Pf. 6, no. 6)

Literature: Wieder (1918) p. 509

Schilder 74.3 Third state, by Frederick de Wit

In the space between the bar scales and the cartouche with the symbols the following imprint has been added: Frederick de Wit Excudit. No changes have been made in the geographical content.

* København, Det Kongelige Bibliotek (1131, 1-0-1680)
* London, The British Library (Maps 32605 [6]).
* Rotterdam, Atlas van Stolk (Suppl. 1600-1650 [1])


Claes Janszoon Visscher 1587-1652
Nicolaes Visscher I (son) 1618–1679
Nicolaes Visscher II (grandson) 1649-1702
Elisabeth Visscher (widow of N. Visscher II)

"For nearly a century the members of the Visscher family were important art dealers and map publishers in Amsterdam. The founder of the business, Claes Janszoon Visscher, had premises near to those of Pieter van den Keere and Jodocus Hondius whose pupil he may have been.

From about 1620 he designed a number of individual maps, including one of the British Isles, but his first atlas consisted of maps printed from plates bought from van den Keere and issued as they stood with some additions of his own, including historical scenes of battles and sieges for which he had a high reputation.

Some maps bear the latinized form of the family name: Piscator. After Visscher's death his son and grandson, both of the same name, issued a considerable number of atlases, constantly revised and brought up to date but most of them lacking an index and with varying contents.

The widow of Nicholaes Visscher II carried on the business until it finally passed into the hands of Pieter Schenk."

(Moreland & Bannister).

Frederick de Wit (1630-1706)

Frederick de Wit was one of the most prominent and successful map engravers and publishers in Amsterdam in the period following the decline of the Blaeu and Jansson establishments, from which he acquired many copper plates when they were dispersed at auction.

His output covered most aspects of map making: sea charts, world atlases, an atlas of the Netherlands, ‘town books' covering plans of towns and cities in the Netherlands and Europe, and wall maps. His work, notable for the beauty of the engraving and colouring, was very popular and editions were issued many years after his death by Pieter Mortier and Covens and Mortier.

(Moreland and Bannister)