Atlas Novum Burgundiea
The famous Dutch artist Romain de Hooghe engraved this beautiful allegorical title page. The resplendent scene depicts Europa receiving tribute from the peoples of Asia, Africa and the Americas. Opposite, the figure of Geography is unfurling a map for Mars. In the background Atlas holds up the heavens and Apollo drives his chariot across the sky. In the foreground, several river gods and goddesses empty their vases while Triton blows his conch horn. A cartouche at bottom contains the title, Atlas Francois, and acknowledges the source of the maps as those by Nicolas Sanson. Covens & Mortier publishing house Maps in Amsterdam. 1721-1866 Sheet size: approx. 30 x 52 cm.
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Covens & Mortier (1721-1866), the largest cartographic publishing house of the 18th century, was founded by Johannes Covens I (1697-1774) and Cornelis Mortier (1699-1783), on the Vijgendam in Amsterdam. The collaboration arose after the death of Pieter Mortier (1661-1711), son of a French political refugee, who in 1690 had obtained the privilege of distributing maps and atlases from French publishers in Holland. His widow continued the business until her death in 1719. Her son Cornelis took over the management under his father’s name for a few years. On November 20, 1721, a company was founded by Cornelis Mortier and Johannes Covens I. The latter had married Cornelis’ sister in the same year. From that year onwards, the name of: Covens & Mortier is encountered.
Their firm would experience massive expansion over the next 140 years. In 1732 the heirs sold the building (next to the Beurs van Hendrick de Keyser) to their brother Cornelis and his partner Covens. Their main competitors were Reinier & Josua Ottens and Gerard Valck & Petrus Schenck. After the death of Johannes Covens I (1774), his son Johannes Covens II (1722-1794) joined the business. From 1778 a new company name was introduced: J. Covens & Son.
Johannes Covens II was succeeded by his son Cornelis Covens (1764-1825), who in turn brought Petrus Mortier IV, the great-grandson of Petrus Mortier I, into the business. From 1794 to 1866 the name was: Mortier, Covens & Son.
The last Covens in the series was Cornelis Jo(h)annes Covens (1806-1880).
Covens & Mortier had access to a large stock of atlases and maps, including those by: Delisle, Jaillot, Johannes Janssonius, Sanson, Claes Jansz. Visscher, Nicolaas Visscher, and Frederik de Wit. Over the decades, an impressive number of atlases came out of the press. Around 1725 Covens & Mortier published a reprint of Frederik de Wit’s world atlas or Atlas Major. The partners owned the original copper plates of that atlas. In 1730, Pieter van der Aa sold his printing plates to Covens & Mortier. In a second edition, this author’s name was deleted. Allard published an atlas with 56 maps. From 1730 to 1774 and even later, numerous editions of G. Delisle’s ‘Atlas Nouveau’ appeared, starting with 43 maps and increasing to 138 around 1775. The firm used newly cut copper plates for this. However, the cartouches were not as nice as on the original cards. Around 1740 a whole series of pocket atlases of different countries appeared, mentioned as ‘très commode pour les Voyageurs’. One of that series was Sanson’s Dix–Sept Provinces. The military was also considered. Before them appeared the “Atlas or charts made out for the convenience of officers to carry in the pocket.” The large atlases were often compiled on request. They contain relatively few cards of their own. In one copy with 742 cards we count 63 and in another with 352 only 6. City books were also reissued. a.o. the curious Atlas or Great City Book of Europe containing 439 city plans. There was also a collection of 298 plans and fortifications. And a series of 90, in a small format. A catalog of the company from 1737, kept in the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel, mentions 59 wall maps by, among others, Blaeu, De Wit and Visscher. The publishing house had the largest collection of graphic work ever offered in Amsterdam.