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Artois Atrebatum Regionis Vera Descriptio Johanne Surhouio monte Auctore



An exceedingly rare map by Gerard de Jode, printed only as a broadside after the publication of his atlas of 1578.

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Copper engraved map sheet with full contemporary colour and silver highlights, with no text on verso, recently remounted upon a larger sheet of paper with added French lines in gilt and blue (Very Good, excellent original colour, map trimmed to neatline as it was once bound in a contemporary atlas factice, sporadic minor restoring to the colour mostly in margins), map proper: 37 x 45,5 cm (14.6 x 17.9 inches).


This map of Artois is one of the Gerard de Jode’s rarest maps. It embraces the area between Kortrijk in Belgium and Calais and Arras in France. Our example is coloured with stunning original colours and is heightened with silver lines.

The map is based on the draft by Jacques de Surhon (died 1557) a Flemish cartographer and silversmith.

This de Jode’s map was never published in an atlas and has been for centuries referred to as lost (“Quoique nous ayons perdu toute trace des exemplaires de de Jode … / Although we thought we have lost all the traces of the examples [of the map of Artois] by de Jode,… – E. Rocart, Un cartographe du XVIe siècle, Jacques de Surhon, 1929, p. 522).  


The Story Behind the Map

In 1579, Abraham Ortelius published in his atlas Theatrum Orbis Terrarum his version of the map of Artois, based on the draft by Jacques de Surhon (died 1557). He wrongly attributed it to Jacques’s son or brother Jean de Surhon (Joannes Surhonius) as the latter was selling the maps as his own, which Ortelius only discovered in 1587, when he corrected the name of the draftsmen in the text of his atlas.

After seeing the map of Artois in the Ortelius’s atlas in 1579, also Gerard de Jode asked archduke Matthias for the privilege to publish the same map, which it was approved (E. Rocart, Un cartographe du XVIe siècle, Jacques de Surhon, 1929). According to the imprint on our map the privilege was given for four years.
As de Jode’s atlas was published a year earlier, he was possibly printing this map only as a broadside and not as a part of the regular program in the atlas.
In the second edition of the atlas, by Cornelis de Jode, in 1593 the map appears with more elaborate cartouche and whit changed details.

Separately Published Maps by de Jode 

This is a separately issued map without text on the back.

As most of the 1578 de Jode maps were issued with text on the back in an atlas, examples were also sold by the author separately without the text (Shirley, p. 51, no. 119; KOEMAN, Atlantes Neerlandici, vol. 2, p. 206). De Jode’s grand project to make an elaborate atlas was namely extremely costly, time consuming and unlucrative, and the author would, as it was normal at the time, sell maps separately on demand to pay his daily costs. Only a small number of atlases was actually sold.

The survival rate of de Jode’s separately published maps is extremely low due to their large format. They would, like our map, usually survive in privately composed atlases.

This map was contemporary coloured and mounted back to back with another map in an atlas factice. All the maps from this atlas fragment were trimmed to the neatline and re-margined in order to obtain equal sizes of sheets in the atlas. Such practice was common in the 16th century composite atlases.

The map has recently undergone professional restoration whereby it was removed from its contemporary backing and remounted upon a larger sheet of paper with added decorative French lines in gilt and blue.  The map’s stellar period colour and gilt highlights have been fully preserved.


Gerard de Jode

The De Jodes were highly skilled and innovative cartographers, although their impressive endeavours never met with financial success. Gerard de Jode, originally from Gelderland, found his calling as an engraver in Antwerp, then a premier global centre of publishing. In 1564, he notably engraved Abraham Ortelius’ cordiform wall map of the World. Shortly thereafter, he set about preparing his own atlas, but was beaten to the punch by Ortelius, who published his Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (1570), considered to be the first fully modern atlas of the entire known world.

Evidence suggest that Ortelius, a politically powerful man, ran interference on De Jode’s efforts to complete his atlas. He used his connections to ensure that De Jode’s application for an imperial privilege (the contemporary version of copyright protection) was severely delayed. Gerard De Jode eventually published his atlas in 1578, and while his maps are generally regarded to be of superior artistic merit and based on more progressive geographical sources than those of his rival, Ortelius’ opposition ensured that relatively few copies were issued.

Cornelis de Jode decided to continue his father’s work and to prepare a revised and enlarged edition of his atlas.

Note on Rarity

As this map was not published in an atlas, it is extremely rare. De Jode was probably selling this map only separately in the time of its four-year privilege, so between 1579 and 1583.

We are not aware of any other examples of the map on the market nor in institutions, although the search through the electronic database is difficult, due do the similarity in the title with the later version by Cornelis de Jode.

We could not find any references to the map in the literature available to us. We could only find a speculation about its existence, based on the archival evidence, in: E. Rocart, Un cartographe du XVIe siècle, Jacques de Surhon, 1929.

References: Seemingly unrecorded. Not in Karrow; Not in Koeman.

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