Based on Mercator’s 1569 projection, but published nearly fifty years later, this map reflects the rapid and substantial growth of the Dutch East India Company. Traffic along lucrative routes around the Cape of Good Hope produced sharper resolution along African coast and among the islands of Indonesia. Also coming into sharper focus were the Strait of Magellan and the newly discovered Le Maire’s Strait, leading to Cape Horn. Competing voyages along these perilous routes led to a better understanding of the Americas’ Western coasts, by now remapped further East in response to new awareness of the Pacific Ocean’s vast scale.
Intended for the popular market in decorative and ornamental cartography, this map radiates a growing sense of the bourgeois comfort that a global trading enterprise could provide. While the cartouches memorialize the combative nature of expansion and discovery, the well-dressed figure warming himself by the fire indicates a domestic sensibility that appreciates sociability and ease. Part of a bountiful seasonal cycle arranged around a central axis that runs from the beginning to the end of time, the image suggests a growing sense of possession and well-established dominion within the larger sphere of the world. An exceedingly rare map, this is one of only four or five copies known in existence today.