New World Map, 17th Century

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About the Artist

Claes Janszoon Visscher, (1587, Amsterdam – 19 June 1652, Amsterdam), was a Flemish draughtsman, engraver, printmaker and publisher. He was also known as Nicolas Joannes Piscator or Nicolas Joannis Visscher II, after his father who lived ca. 1550-1612. He learned the art of etching and printing from his father, though it is his father who grew the family printing and mapmaking business to one of the largest in his time. It was a family business; Nicolaes Visscher I (1618-1679), and Nicolaes Visscher II (1649-1702) were also mapmakers in Amsterdam on the Kalverstraat. The times were with the Visschers for other reasons; due to the Protestant reformation, the older bibles with their "Roman Catholic" illustrations were seen as outdated and apocryphal, but to liven up the new Protestant bibles for the less well-read clergy, the Visschers produced illustrated maps and even landscapes of the places in the bible. This became a very successful family business, with collaboration with many respected draughtsmen of the day. A new translation of the bible was done by Johannes Piscator. Though probably not a relative, his bible translation was accepted by the Dutch Staten-General in 1602, which only lent more publicity and authenticity to the "Fisher" name. The trademark of the Visschers was a fisherman, after their name (thus the Latin nickname Piscator). A small fisherman would be strategically placed somewhere near water. If the subject was a landscape without a stream or pond, then often a figure walking with a fishing rod can be seen. Their map plates were reused for a century by other printers who unknowingly copied the entire plates, including the tell-tale fishermen. Observant scholars are thus able to trace the provenance of bibles, maps, and landscapes from these signs. Aside from bibles, Claes Visscher II primarily etched and published landscapes, portraits and maps. He etched over 200 plates and his maps included elaborate original borders. Visscher died in 1652. He was a publisher of prints by Esaias van de Velde, and David Vinckboons, and was a big influence on Roelant Roghman and on his sister Geertruyd.