‘The most important map of the far northern regions … [and] the first to show Spitzbergen’
Also known as the Map of the Strete of Anian, this is Willem Barentsz’ landmark map of the Arctic region.
Willem Barentsz made three voyages to the Arctic Ocean. During his third voyage in 1596, Barentsz discovered Spitzbergen, and decided to try to enter the Kara Sea by sailing north of Novaya Zemlya.
His expedition was subsequently trapped in the ice, forcing the crew to overwinter in a shelter made with timbers slavaged from the ship.
They named this shelter ‘Het Behouden Huys’ (the safe house), which is shown on the map.
It is not until mid-June 1597, that the weather allowed 15 survivors to make their return in open boats along the shores of Novaya Zemlya. Barentsz perished during the return journey on 20 June.
The full detail of this expedition can be read in the the journal kept by Gerrit de Veer published under the title “Waerachtige beschryvinghe van drie seylagien”.
This beautiful map is a great piece of art, it is decorated with 34 illustrations of sea monsters, ships and whales. The map also shows the imaginary island of Frisland, an island named Polus Magnetis, and part of the North American continent labelled Estotiland.
Other decorations include 3 compass roses and 3 cartouches with elaborate borders.
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