Le Grand Atlas
Date of Creation:
A magnificent example of “the greatest and finest atlas ever published” (Verwey).
The ‘Atlas Major’ in its various editions was the largest atlas ever published. It was justly famed for its production values, its high typographic standard, and the quality of its engraving, ornamentation, binding, and colouring. The atlas frequently served as the official gift of the Dutch Republic to princes and other authorities. It is one of the most lavish and highly prized of all seventeenth-century illustrated books.
“In its sheer size and scale it surpassed all other atlases then in circulation, including the efforts of his great predecessors Ortelius and Mercator” (Brotton).
The work was published simultaneously in five different languages, Latin, French, Dutch, Spanish, and German. The French ‘Grand Atlas’ was the largest of the five editions, with the volume concerning France split into two books to make a total of 12 volumes. What Blaeu managed to achieve was to contain the world in a book, an endeavour that in many respects would never be equalled.