Nova Africa Descriptio, 1670 by Frederik De Wit



Title

Nova Africa Descriptio, 1670

Artist

Frederik De Wit

Ref RH2291-F1
Type Print
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Description  
This is an exquisite map by Frederick De Wit, a renowned Dutch publisher, engraver and seller of maps during the late seventeenth century. “Nova Africa Descriptio” is part of a series of engraved maps published by De Wit which were superbly hand coloured by master Dutch colourists. “Nova Africa Descriptio” is a highly decorative map framed by a border; down the sides are intricate illustrations of costumed figures and across the top are five different views of major towns in Africa. The title, “Nova Africa Descriptio”, is decorated with an illustrated cartouche showing an African woman seated on a crocodile, which is an allegory of the African continent. The cartouche in the lower left corner of the map is also surrounded by an elaborate scene, with attractively engraved figures, trade goods and animals which are typically found in Africa. Much of the geographical detail in “Nova Africa Descriptio” was taken from De Wit’s earlier map of the same region published in 1660. This earlier map was based on a collection of copperplates from maps by Jodocus Hondius Jr. and Willem Blaeu which De Wit bought from an auction. This superb late seventeenth century Dutch map is of exceptional beauty and historic significance with clearly defined regions of the African continent. The Dutch nation had a particular affiliation with Africa as in 1652 a Dutch settlement was established near the Cape of Good Hope (now in South Africa). This Dutch Colony established a secure port for the purpose of restocking boats mid-way between travelling to and from Northern Europe and the East Indies for trade, exploration and colonisation. The expansion of the Dutch Colony from the Cape of Good Hope during the following centuries became one of the most prominent developments in African history.