Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Exquisite Wall Map of Europe by Overton

Detail of vignette of Amsterdam

Detail of vignette of Paris

English cartography rose to prominence at the turn of the 18th century, and one of Britain’s most celebrated cartographers was Henry Overton, who successfully reissued several editions of John Speed's popular county maps of England. One of Overton’s most splendid productions is this wall map, a highly ornamental production that shows Europe as it was in the time of Louis XIV. The map is flanked by sixteen large detailed views of important cities: London, Paris, Rome, Amsterdam, Constantinople, Lisbon, Seville, Antwerp, Venice, Frankfurt, Prague, Cologne, Copenhagen, Kracow, and Danzig. This map is a valuable record of the growth of these cities, presenting an image of them as they were in the 1700’s. The whole is enclosed within a richly colored, highly decorative floral border.

This is a very rare map, not noted by the British Museum Catalogue of Printed Maps. The date of the map is uncertain, but is certainly after 1707, the year in which the mapmaker, Henry Overton, succeeded his father, John Overton. Antique wall maps such as this are exceedingly rare, for lacking the protection of bound maps, they were often destroyed by the effects of light, humidity, and carelessness. Overton’s Europe is a rare example of such a map to survive not only intact, but in excellent condition, with vivid original color.

This spectacular wall map is currently on view at Arader Galleries and available for purchase. For more information, call 415-788-5115.

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