John Ogilby

Artist's Biography

Castrum Mauritij ad Ripam Fluminis S. Francisci. (Brazil)

Copper plate engraving, 1671
10 7/8 x 13 1/4" (277 x 337 mm) plus wide margins.
Good condition, save for traces of old mat line and some repaired splitting along center crease.
LOCATION: New York City

Inventory Number: 33486
Price: $300.00
Publisher :
In the late 1630’s Holland attempted to reassert its claim over Brazil by establishing a series of forts along the coastline. It is one of the best documented colonies because of the expedition led by Prince Maurits of Nassau, who attempted to assemble an intellectual court in the New World. He brought with him a group of highly accomplished artists, mapmakers, and scientists to record the mysteries of Brazil. They included the celebrated painter Frans Post, and the astronomer George Markgraf, who produced the first serious study of the southern sky. Post painted a wealth of images of the Brazilian landscape and the surrounding vegetation and wildlife. His works are some of the earliest European paintings of Brazil and were eagerly reproduced in print by Dutch engravers.

This impressive view depicts Fort Maurice, which controlled the ferry on the Rio Francisco. It was built on a steep hill overlooking the river and was equipped with five bulwarks. First founded in 1637 with the arrival of Nassau’s expedition, the fort housed over 541 men. This detailed engraving is inspired by a painting by Post executed in 1639. 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.