[Amsterdam: Cornelis Claesz, ca. 1596-1604]. Twenty-nine (of thirty) plates, plus two maps and one extra plate. Oblong quarto. Contemporary Dutch vellum, gilt. Cockled, soiled. Marginal stains on two plates; one plate chipped in margin, not affecting text. Very good. In a cloth clamshell case, leather label. Item #WRCAM31031
This extremely rare portfolio of plates consists of fine early impressions of Linschoten's famous views of Portuguese Asia. They are among the first eyewitness illustrations of the East to reach Europe, and were by far the most widely disseminated. Donald Lach has called them "a watershed in Europe's pictorial impression of Asia." They rank among the most influential images of the period, and appeared in the many subsequent editions of Linschoten's works. The illustrations were executed by Joannes and Baptista Doetechum from sketches brought back by Linschoten. Linschoten described the images of the people, places, methods of travel, and animals of Asia as "counterfeits from life," which would give a realistic representation of what he saw, but also a general perception of the reality of the distant East. In the present copy, a large, double-page view of Goa is missing, while two maps, one of Mozambique and one of Ascension Island, have been added. Also added is an untitled panorama of an Indonesian or Malaysian procession. This plate is likely connected to the 1598 Claesz publication of Houtman & Loewijk's account of the first Dutch expedition. It seems clear that the present item is one of the very rare issues of the plates produced for separate sale by Linschoten's publisher, Cornelis Claesz. Claesz sold the images and maps separately from the ITINERARIO..., under a title translated as THE FIGURES AND MAPS OF JAN HUYGHEN. He used Latin and Dutch captions, as in our copy, in order to increase the images' marketability. Four similar sets of Linschoten plates are known, but only one of these, at the Atlas van Stolk in Rotterdam, has a titlepage. The other three copies which, like ours, lack titlepages, are at the Universiteitsbibliotheek in Amsterdam (containing all the plates), the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel and the Amsterdams Scheepvaort Museum (lacking some plates as well as the titlepage). They all have Latin and Dutch text beneath each image. In Tiele's MEMOIR (1867), on page 103 he discusses an edition of the ICONES... containing twenty-nine plates and no titlepage. Ernst Van Den Boogaart, who has produced a fine study of the publication history, iconographic significance, and coded messages of Linschoten's work, examines these issues in great detail. The Linschoten plates were produced to accompany his famed ITINERARIO..., in which he gave his perceptions of the culture, customs, and societies of Asia. Linschoten had lived in Goa for six years from 1583, and while he never ventured far from the Portuguese capital, he did have an "avaricious thirst for knowledge which enabled him to get detailed information of land and sea as far afield as the Spice Islands and China" (Boies Penrose). He released his work at a time when Europe was desperately in need of knowledge about the Far East. A wonderful collection of Asian and early travel iconography, in an exceptionally rare edition. Ernst Van Den Boogaart, JAN HUYGEN VAN LINSCHOTEN AND THE MORAL MAP OF ASIA, passim, esp. pp.161-75. Lach, ASIA IN THE MAKING OF EUROPE II, p.94.