Antiquarenbeurs Mechelen



Edelweisslaan 13
3080 Tervuren


Stanislas De Peuter


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Claes Janszoon Visscher, Henricus Hondius, Joannes van Deutecum Leo Belgicus, a unique and unrecorded map, anno 1641 Genesis of this map

So far, three states of this map were known: 1598, 1630 and 1650.

A) In 1598 Joannes van Doetecum Jr. made a Leo Belgicus, in carte-à-figures format. He dated the map 1598 and placed two ships In the top left corner, just under the title ?Leo Belgicus?.

The text in the panels left (in Dutch) and right (in French) bottom refer tot the reigning leaders at that moment. The last lines of the Dutch text read: (?) ende hooggeborenen Aertshertoch Albertum ter eender, ende den Edelen ende meer dan Martium Mauritium ter ander zijnde de tegenwoordelick regiere. (last three words mean ?who both currently govern?)

Prof. G. Schilder recorded two copies of this map in his Monumenta Cartographica Neerlandica (Part VI, Map 50, 2000).

B) In 1630 van Doetecum died and Henricus Hondius acquired the copperplate which he reprinted with minor changes: he put his own monogram and replaced the date to 1630. He also updated the coat of arms of England. Although Prince Maurice and the Archduke Albert had already died, the captions below their medallions remained unchanged. Prof. G. Schilder recorded two copies of this map.

C) Hondius died in 1650. So far it was assumed that the next and last state was the one by Claes Jansz. Visscher of 1650. He made a few crucial changes. The most obvious one is the replacement of the ships by the medallions of Archduke Ferdinand (Governor 1634-1641, date of his death) and of Prince Frederik Hendrik of Orange (Stadtholder 1625-1647). [The stadtholder or head of state was the replacement of the duke or earl of a province during the Burgundian and Habsburg period (1384 ? 1581/1795).] A full analysis of the map follows below.

Prof. G. Schilder recorded eight copies of this 1650 map. More recently another (ninth) copy was sold a Sotheby?s.

SO FAR, SO GOOD and then?.came this map.

Unique and unrecorded ?C.J.Visscher Excudit, Anno 1641?
According to previous belief, Visscher added in 1650 the portraits of Archduke Ferdinand and of Prince Frederik Hendrik of Orange, two persons who had died years before. This is a bit odd.

With the discovery of this example of Visscher?s edition, with the date 1641, it becomes much clearer why Visscher dated the map 1641 and why he THEN added the medallion portraits of Archduke Ferdinand (Governor 1634-1641) and Prince Frederik Hendrik of Orange (Stadholder 1625-1647) to the plate. In 1641 both of them were still alive and much more, they were the key negotiators on the Dutch independence.

This fact was also recorded in the updated panels (bottom left in Dutch and same text in bottom right in French). The last lines of the Dutch text now read: (?) ende hooggeborene Ferdinandus Infans Cardinael en de Edelen en meer dan Martium Frederik Hendrick die beyde tegenwoordelick regiere. (last three words: ?who both currently govern?). So Ferdinand was still alive at the date of publication (note: he died in 1641). Why would Visscher publish alter a map in 1650 with this incorrect information? There is no reason for. Please click on the specific picture (not this one below) in the gallery and zoom in on the text.

To insert these new portraits (top left) the large title ?Leo Belgicus?had to be moved, made smaller and broken off: ?LEO BEL: GICUS?. The tail of the lion was shortened and lowered.

Other changes included the adornment of the sea, which was changed completely and was now filled with nine vessels. Outside the lion?s shape three names were added: DE NOORT ZEE, DE HOOFDEN and GERMNANIAE PARS.

It is interesting to note that the lower square panel at the right, which gives the towns and villages per province, was left unchanged since van Deutecum?s first map of 1598.

The Lion now stands on a hatched base. It looks like Visscher wanted to say that the the Republic finally had found grounds.

This edition (of 1641) is there for the most important edition of all Leo Maps and being the birth certificate of an Independent Country!

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