Remembering Jodocus Hondius: A Pioneer Cartographer with a Legacy

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Jodocus Hondius, a Dutch cartographer and engraver, was born Oct. 14, 1563. Hondius started out in Holland, moved to London for a while, and then returned to Amsterdam, where he became one of the premier publishers of maps and globes. It was in 1577-80 that Francis Drake had circumnavigated the globe, and Hondius did much to publicize the voyage on his world maps. We see above one of 1595, which not only tracks Drake’s voyages (and that of Thomas Cavendish), but has several insets showing notable Drake stopping points, including California (see first image above). Hondius also engraved a portrait of Drake. There were not many artists that were equally at home, whether engraving maps or portraits.

Hondius played a major role in restoring Gerard Mercator to his rightful place as a cartographic pioneer.  Mercator had begun issuing maps for his Atlas in 1578, but Abraham Ortelius had published his Atlas earlier, in 1570, and Ortelius did a better job of keeping his up to date, so that Mercator and his maps fell into eclipse. Hondiuis republished Mercator’s Atlas in 1606, with important additions of his own, and the revived Mercator/Hondius atlas and its subsequent reissues came to dominate 17th-century cartography until mid-century. The National Portrait gallery in London has a fine engraved dual portrait of Hondius and Mercator, with Mercator on the left (third image), done by an unknown artist after the death of Hondius in 1612.

Hondius also produced a number of globes, issued in pairs–terrestrial and celestial–as was customary. Above we see a celestial globe that was published in 1600 (fourth image). In 1668, the great Delft artist, Johannes Vermeer, painted The Astronomer, in which the subject is examining a large celestial globe (fifth image). The globe has been identified by scholars as one published by Hondius.

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