Framed Map of Sweden
This beautifully preserved map of the eastern Swedish province of Upland was created by famed cartographer Joan Blaeu (1596–1673). After taking over his father’s business with his brother in 1638, he became the official mapmaker of the 17th-century spice trading conglomerate, the Dutch East India Company. During this period, Blaeu published several collections of maps and his 12-volume Atlas Nova, issued in 1663, which included 593 engravings of the earth, sea, and sky was one of the largest and most prestigious publishing projects of the 17th century. Nearly two decades earlier, Blaeu was already producing works of renown including the revolutionary Nova Totius Terrarum Orbis Tabula of 1648, a monumental world map that included three models of the solar system: the ancient Ptolemaic, the controversial 16th-century Copernican, and the Tychonic (named after the astronomer who trained Joan’s father). Enhancing its prestige, Blaeu’s map was gifted to the Spanish ambassador to recognize the peace negotiations which ended the Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648). The map pictured here may be on a smaller scale, but it carries the significance of its maker and historical context. Likely printed before the end of the war, this object oozes history and character. Its delicate patina does little to obscure the vibrant greens, blues, and reds throughout. The Uplandia coat of arms on the lower left is balanced by a cartouche encircling the province’s name at the bottom right. It is surrounded by a colourful assemblage of knights and harvesters, possibly representing the biblical brothers Cain and Abel, and a female figure likely allegorizing victory or abundance. Specially framed by J. Pocker & Sons of New York, this is an incredibly unique and valuable art piece.
At this time in history, from the years 1618 to 1648, the bloody and destructive Thirty Years’ War ripped across Europe and Scandinavia. Though it originated in Germany with the removal of Ferdinand II (r. 1619–1637) as King of Bohemia, by 1635 the war expanded to France, Sweden, and Spain. This was a difficult time for artists as high death rates, urban destruction, economic crisis, cultural theft, lack of patronage, and religious shifts often made work difficult to find and forced artists to flee sites of struggle. A multi-faceted treaty known as the Peace of Westphalia was drawn up in 1648 which would put an end to the war and shift national boundaries and systems of power across the continent.