A Chart of Magellan by the Route of Tierra del Fuego


This map of “Magellanica,” the land south of the Strait of Magellan, is by Willem Janszoon Blaeu, a leading Dutch cartographer and map publisher and the founder of a family of distinguished mapmakers that included his sons Joan and Cornelis. Born in the Netherlands in 1571, between 1594 and 1596 Blaeu studied in Denmark under the astronomer Tycho Brahe, where he developed skills as an instrument and globe maker. Returning to Amsterdam, he founded the family map company. In 1608 he was appointed chief hydrographer of the Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (United East Indian Company), a position he held until his death in 1638. This 1640 map reflects Blaeu’s specialization in maritime cartography. The lower left corner depicts a group of seven sailing ships, positioned over a cartouche in which the scale is given in German miles. The cartouche is supported by a group of three Patagonians. The names of the Atlantic, Pacific, and southern oceans are indicated in the other corners of the map. The map is dedicated to Constantijn Huygens, a Dutch poet and diplomat who, with his more famous brother Christiaan (the discoverer of Saturn’s moon Titan), also built telescopes and studied the skies.

Last updated: October 19, 2015