Catalog Archive
Auction 185, Lot 653

Rare Four-Paneled Carte-a-Figures Map of Asia

"Asiae Nova Descriptio", Visscher, Nicolas

Subject: Asia

Period: 1652 (dated)


Color: Hand Color

22.3 x 17.3 inches
56.6 x 43.9 cm
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This is Visscher's re-issue of Pieter van den Keere's splendid carte-a-figures map of Asia, with Visscher's name replacing that of Van den Keere in the title cartouche. Van den Keere originally published his map in 1614, and subsequently sold this plate among others to the Visschers in 1623. Cartographically, Van den Keere drew largely from maps by his brother-in-law, Jodocus Hondius. Much of the map, including Southern, Central and Southeast Asia, were copied from Jodocus Hondius' map of Asia from 1616. In India, the Gulf of Cambay is very exaggerated but the shape of Ceylon has been improved. The mythical Chami Lacus appears to the northeast of India, with five rivers flowing south. The Philippines are marked as the Philippina Insulae, as well as Archipelagus S. Lazari, Magellan’s original name for the group. The southern coastline of Java is left blank. The northern coastline of New Guinea includes many place names from Spanish expeditions, and there is a note that it is unknown if New Guinea is a part of Terra Australis.

Eastern and Northern Asia are quite different from Hondius' map, with Korea clearly depicted as a (slightly less elongated) island. Novaya Zemlya is attached to the north Siberian coastline, which is oddly truncated. The Streto de Anian separates Asia from North America (Americae Pars), which is a large round mass filled with place names along the coast, including Mendocino, C. Escondido, Serra Nevada, and Tierra de Pescadores, which were derived from the maps of the western hemisphere by Ortelius and Jodocus Hondius.

Of course the most striking feature of the map is the carte-a-figures border. At the top and bottom are 10 vignettes of important cities, including Jerusalem, Goa, Calicut, and Macau. Interspersed between the city views are portraits of Asian rulers, such as the kings of China, Tartary and the Moluccas. Costumed figures of men and women from Java, Arabia, China and Tartary fill the side borders.

First published by Visscher in 1636, this map is dated 1652; examples of this map can be found dated as late as 1657.

References: Yeo #36.

Condition: B+

A sharp impression on a bright sheet, professionally backed in thin, archival tissue to repair a long centerfold separation and some tears extending from the edges. Remargined at bottom right with a minor amount of the neatline replaced in facsimile.

Estimate: $2,750 - $3,500

Sold for: $1,800

Closed on 11/17/2021