The Dutch Golden Age saw map-making reach a fever pitch of creative and commercial ambition. This was the era of the first ever Atlases – elaborate, lavish and beautiful. This was the great age of discovery and marked an unprecedented opportunity for mapmakers who sought to record and categorise the newly acquired knowledge of the world. Rising above the many mapmakers in this period was Gerard Mercator, inventor of the Mercator projection, who changed mapmaking forever when he published his collection of world maps in 1598 and coined the term ‘Atlas’.
The programme looks at some of the largest and most elaborate maps ever produced, from the vast maps on the floor of the Royal Palace in Amsterdam, to the 24 volume atlas covering just the Netherlands, to the largest Atlas in the world, The Klencke Atlas. It was made for Charles II to mark his restoration in 1660. But whilst being one of the British Libraries most important items, it is also one of its most fragile so hardly ever opened. This is a unique opportunity to see inside this enormous and lavish work, and see the world through the eyes of a King.
The Beauty Of Maps looks at the art of maps, their historical significance, their relevance to modern map-making, and how they shape the future of cartography. A documentary series looking at maps in incredible detail to highlight their artistic attributions and reveal the stories that they tell. Experience five of the world's most beautiful old maps and discover their secrets. Each programme will focus on one specific map and use human stories and testimony, original sketches and artistic impressions, private journals and historic archive sources to tell its story. The series addresses the cartographers' role and the impact their creations have had within the art world and includes interviews with artists and Peter Barber, Head of Map Collections at the British Library.