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Joan Blaeu (1596 Alkmaar-1673 Amsterdam) was the son of Willem Blaeu and a leading Dutch cartographer. In 1620 he became a doctor of law and subsequently joined his father's workshop. In 1635 they published the two-volume Novus Atlas (Theatrum orbis terrarum, sive, Atlas novus). Joan and his brother Cornelius took over the workshop after their father had died in 1638. Joan became the official cartographer of the Dutch East India Company. Around 1649 he published a collection of Dutch city maps entitled Tooneel der Steeden (Theater of Cities). In 1651 he was voted into the Amsterdam council. In 1654 he published the first atlas of Scotland. In 1662 he reissued the atlas in 11 volumes, known as the Atlas Maior. A cosmology was planned as his next project, but a fire destroyed the workshop in 1672. Joan Blaeu died in the following year. Since 1990, Peter van der Krogt, the leading expert in the field of Dutch atlases, has been working on Koeman's Atlantes Neerlandici, the cartobibliography of atlases published in the Netherlands. His second project is the compilation, in cooperation with the Nijmegen University, of an illustrated and annotated catalogue of the Atlas Blaeu-Van der Hem, the most important multivolume atlas preserved in the Osterreichische Nationalbibliothek, Vienna.
October 2012 Guest Editor Simon Garfield on Atlas Maior... The original volume would probably bankrupt you, but this grand and loving reproduction from Taschen serves as a worthy substitute. This Dutch masterpiece may be the most lavish atlas ever made, a sumptuous rendering of how the world looked to a master map publisher in the 17th century. It’s packed full of naïve splendours (including all the mythical sea creatures you will ever need) and makes you long for time-travel and a favourable wind.