Johannes Bapt. Homann. “Recentissima Asiae Delineatio” Nuremberg: Homann Heirs, ca. 1730. 19 x 22 1/2. Engraving. Original hand color. Very good condition.
A highly detailed antique map of Asia by Johann Baptist Homann, one of the most influential German cartographers in the eighteenth century. He led a resurgence of map-publishing by producing his famous Grosser Atlas in 1716. His maps are unusual because he ascribes to a style known as “body coloring”, i.e. he colors the maps but leaves titles and cartouches uncolored. This is a nice example of his output, showing the continent of Asia as understood in Europe near the beginning of the eighteenth century. By then the “Spice Islands” and Japan were better known, so the outline of the continent was significantly improved, though the northeast is still relatively unknown, Homann showing a large “Compagnie Lane” to the east of the Kamchatka Peninsula. This was a mythical land based on a misinterpreted report from a Spanish pilot who had supposedly traveled from Asia to New Spain. It could possibly be an early representation of the Northwest part of America, but more likely is simply a cartographic myth typical of many that appeared on maps of this period. Further south New Guinea and Australia are depicted in a tentative manner. The interior of the continent is a mixture of some limited knowledge and other old erroneous beliefs. One of the nicest features of many Homann maps are the cartouches and this map is no exception. The large, elaborate title cartouche in the lower left shows an Asian potentate sitting on a throne surrounding by advisors and supplicants. In the background are caravan and ship traders while in the sky are putti showing the hope that Christianity was being spread through the continent.