Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Maps featured in paintings

I have found the most incredible website about Johannes [Jan] Vermeer (1632-1675)! Here's how it happened. I was looking at a link of 20 fascinating ancient maps and the map of Belgium as a lion (top) caught my eye. The description explains that maps like this one, which was drawn by Jodocus Hondius in 1611, were often featured in 17th c. Dutch paintings. I immediately navigated to the painting referenced (2nd image), and wasn't convinced that it showed a lion-shaped land mass. The 2nd source I chose was Essential Vermeer, the site of which I speak, but more about that below. I had also googled "maps in paintings" - and I'm sure there are thousands - but what I came up with was this painting (4th image) of "Eugene Joseph Stanislas Foullon d'Ecotier (1753-1821) with a Map of Guadaloupe" by French artist Antoine Vestier in 1785. The map was identified, so I was able to find a copy of it on-line and show it here (3rd image) - it was published by J.N. Bellin in Paris in 1760. I also found this informative paper, "Vermeer's Maps: A New Digital Look in an Old Master's Mirror," which confirms the link between art and cartography and the Netherlands as the focus for both, because the Dutch were world leaders in mapmaking and many Dutch artists either drew maps themselves or featured them on the walls of their homes and in their paintings. The paper cited a long list of examples by Vermeer, which I found on Essential Vermeer and - here is the beauty of the site - was able to scroll over the map in each painting to find a remarkable amount of research about it! These are the paintings that include maps:
This incredibly rich website is the work of one man - Jonathan Janson - over a period of 8 years! Remarkable!

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