John Ogilby

Artist's Biography

Boavista. (Brazil)

Copper plate engraving, 1671
10 x 13" (259 x 330 mm) plus wide margins.
Good condition. Black and white.
LOCATION: New York City

Inventory Number: 33488
Price: $375.00
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 Boavista, a banqueting house, built by Nassau along the Capivaribi River. During his time in Brazil, Nassau built two bridges that connected Antonio Vas Island to the mainland. The first bridge spanned the Biberibi River between Recife and Antonio Vas, and the second, which is pictured in this image, crossed the Capivaribi River to the mainland. The Capivaribi bridge was comprised of eighty-six timber rods and took over seven weeks to erect. To celebrate this vast achievement, Nassau built a large banqueting hall next to the bridge. The building had four turrets, a large terrace, and a commanding view of the surrounding countryside.

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.