John Ogilby

Artist's Biography

Havana. (Cuba)

Copper plate engraving, 1671
11 3/8 x 13 3/4" (28.9 x 34.9 cm) plus wide margins.
Good condition, save for some professionally repaired splitting along centerfold. Black & white.
LOCATION: New York City

Inventory Number: 33437
Price: $750.00
Publisher :
This splendid engraving of Havana is a wonderful example of Montanus’ cities views. Although it is extremely dramatic and has a well balance lively composition, the image is somewhat inaccurate in detail. In the imagination of the engraver Havana appears to be a city filled with grand churches and oriental domes when in fact it was little more than a fortified village. Strategically situated in the northern coast of Cuba and facing the Gulf Stream, Havana became a critical stopping point in the Spanish trade route. With an ample harbor, an excellent shipyard, and rich farmlands, Havana became the perfect place for refreshment and repairs before the long and dangerous trip back to Europe. The fleet stayed there several months at a time, waiting for clear horizons, orders from superiors, or propitious winds. This view depicts a well-fortified town and a thriving port. Perhaps in reference to the pirate skirmishes, which plagued the town, Montanus has chosen to depict a war ship in the foreground of the image and a chain across the mouth of the harbor. This map appeared in John Ogilby’s seminal atlas "America: Being the Latest, and Most Accurate Description of the New World," published in London in 1671. Ogilby’s work is an English translation of Arnoldus Montanus’ "Die Nieuwe en onbekende Weereld. . . ," which was produced in Amsterdam earlier the same year. Considered the first encyclopedias of the Americas, both texts are richly illustrated with maps, views, and portraits. With little exception, Ogilby’s work is a direct copy of Montanus’ atlas. Ogilby did expand his atlas by adding fresh material on the English colonies. Illustrated with over 122 magnificent engravings, Ogilby’s America was the most accurate compendium available of the New World. Maps