John Ogilby

Artist's Biography

De Stadt St. Martin (St. Martin).

Copper plate engraving, 1671
10 3/4 x 13 7/8" (273 x 353 mm) plus wide margins.
Good condition. Black & white.
LOCATION: New York City

Inventory Number: 33440
Price: $850.00
Publisher : Published by Ogilby, White Fryers, London.
Ogilby’s view depicts a well-fortified town and a thriving port on the island of St. Martin. Like most other Caribbean islands, St. Martin was first inhabited by a succession of native Indian groups, most notably the Arawak and Carib tribes from South America, before European exploration began in the 15th century. Christopher Columbus was the first European to set eyes on St. Martin during his second voyage in 1493. Naming the island after the feast day of St. Martin, Columbus claimed St. Martin for Spain, but never established a settlement there. Initially, Spain took little interest in the new territory, leaving the island to be occupied by the Dutch who used it as an outpost between its colonies in Brazil and New York. It was also at this time that a small band of French families set up a colony on St. Martin, beginning what would become a centuries-long history of peaceful coexistence between the two cultures. It was only when the Spanish realized that the Dutch were successfully mining salt in St. Martin, that they exerted their claim on the island and expelled the Dutch. Over the course of the seventeenth century, Dutch and French forces made several attempts to reclaim St. Martin. They finally realized success in 1648 when they signed a treaty splitting St. Martin between the two powers. Because of its superior navy, France received 21 square miles of territory, while the Netherlands took charge of the remaining 16 square miles. St. Martin was a favorite haunt for pirates who plagued the Caribbean seas in search of rich trade ships on their way back to Europe. Perhaps in reference to the pirate skirmishes, which plagued the town, Ogilby has chosen to depict a sea battle in the foreground of the image. 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