Map showing the Kremlin, Moscow, 1662 (hand coloured etching), Blaeu, Joan (1596-1673) / Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, USA / The Bridgeman Art Library
Joan Blaeu (1599 – 1673) transformed mapmaking into an art form while running the 17th century’s largest printing press, and was also the Dutch East India Company’s principal cartographer. After the death of Jodocus Hondius II, Blaeu replaced him as Europe’s most renowned mapmaker by printing an extraordinarily beautiful world atlas, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum or Atlas Major. Primarily used for display by wealthy clients, it was the 17th century’s most expensive book, containing over 3,000 text pages and about 600 maps. The largest output of Blaeu’s printing press was 1 million impressions from 1,000 copper plates within four years.