AMSTERDAM.- The Rijksmuseum
has received two exceptional globes from the Golden Age on long-term loan from a private collection. The globes were produced around 1645-1648 by the world-renowned cartographers Willem Janz and Johannes Willemsz Blaeu. They are made of oak, plaster, brass, metal and coloured engravings. One is a globe of the Earth showing the latest discoveries of distant lands and colonies such as New Netherlands (New York). The celestial globe shows planets and constellations. This is the first time that the Rijksmuseum can show these highlights of the Golden Age. This presentation fulfils a long-cherished wish of the museum.
Everything about these globes is exceptional. The quality (superior), size (68-centimetre diameter), the engraving (which must have taken a year to do) and the makers. Willem Jansz (1571-1638) and his son and successor Joan Blaeu (1596-1673) were the leading and most innovative cartographers of their time. They collected the information that the Dutch ships gathered from the entire, known world and brought back to Amsterdam. The crew were instructed to record information about the lands that they visited and the skies they saw. Father and son Blaeu incorporated these observations on maps and globes. Willem Blaeu produced the first large globes in 1617. His son, Joan, was running the business when the Rijksmusem globes were made (1645-1648). The Blaeu family globes graced the libraries of monarchs and universities in the 17th century and were often given as (diplomatic) gifts.
New discoveries on the globe include parts of the west coast of Africa and the coast of Australia. The celestial globe shows the seventeenth-century knowledge of the skies, including recently discovered stars. The globes are made from plaster, cast around a wooden spindle running between both poles. The outside is covered in engraved, printed and coloured strips of paper. The globes are suspended in a brass meridian ring. They were recently restored by the foremost globe restorer, Sylvia Sumira, who lives in London.