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Blaeu [family]

Willem Janszoon Blaeu (1571-1638), also abbreviated to Willem Jansz. Blaeu, was a Dutch cartographer, atlas maker, and publisher. Together with his son Johannes or Joan Blaeu (1596-1673), the Blaeus are considered among the most prominent figures of the Dutch school of cartography during its golden age in the 16th and 17th centuries. As a student of the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe, Willem qualified as an instrument and globe maker. Blaeu maps were featured in the works of the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer. Both Willem and Joan served at different times as the official cartographer to the Dutch East India Company. In 1629, Willem Blaeu bought the copperplates of several dozen maps from Jodocus Hondius II's widow. Their first complete atlas was published from 1635 with text in four different languages versions, each containing 207 or 208 maps: Novus Atlas (German edition), Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, sive, Atlas Novus (Latin edition), Toonneel des Aerdrycks (Dutch edition) and Theatre du Monde ou Nouvel Atlas (French edition). The final version of the atlas, the Atlas Maior, was published between 1662 and 1665, in the same four languages plus an incomplete Spanish edition. With 594 maps and around 3,000 pages of text, it was the largest and most expensive book published in the seventeenth century. In 1672, the Blaeu print works was destroyed by fire. Joan Blaeu died the next year; no new editions of the atlas went published and the family business went bust shortly afterwards