John Ogilby

Artist's Biography

Potosi (Bolivia).

Copper plate engraving. 1671.
10 3/4 x 13 5/8" (27.3 x 34.6 cm) plus wide margins.
Good condition. Black & white.
LOCATION: New York City

Inventory Number: 33467
Price: $550.00
Publisher :
This highly stylized fictional view depicts the town of Potosi in the eastern Andes, southwestern Bolivia. The first printed view of Potosi was published in Augustin de Zarante’s "The Strange and Delectable History of the Discoveries and Conquest of the Provinces of Peru and the Navigation in the South Sea Along That Coast" in 1581. One of the richest silver-mining towns in South America, Potosi produced much of the wealth that enriched the Spanish Empire. There were over 5000 silver mines in Potosi, which were rumored to produce over 5 million pesos a year at the time of Charles I’s death. A shepherd first discovered the rich silver deposits when he pulled a clump of grass out of the ground covered with silver dust. Mining began shortly thereafter and the city quickly grew to a population of over 160,000 people.

This view 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.