Mt. Vesuvius and Lake Avernus
Pair of Early 18th C. Blaeu/Mortier Views
Lake Avernus Mt. Vesuvius
Detail of Mt. Vesuvius Detail of Mt. Vesuvius
Detail of Mt. Vesuvius

Details of Mt. Vesuvius

Detail of Mt. Vesuvius Detail of Mt. Vesuvius
Detail of Mt. Vesuvius

Details of Lake Avernus

Joan Blaeu (c. 1599-1673)
Vesuvius Mons: à deux Lieuës de Naples, Plate 9
[Mt. Vesuvius: at Two Sites in Naples]
Lacus Avernus: Le Lac D'Averno, Pres de Pouzzol, dans le Royaume de Naples, Plate 15
[Lake Avernus, Near Pozzuoli, in the Kingdom of Naples]

from Nouveau Theatre D'Italie, Ou Description Exacte
De Ses Villes, Palais, Eglises, Principaux Edifices &c. Vol. 3
[New Theater of Italy, Or Exact Description of Its Cities, Palaces, Churches, Principal Buildings, etc.]

Pierre Mortier, Amsterdam: 1704-05
Hand-colored copperplate engravings
19.5 x 24.75 inches, overall
16.25 x 20.5 inches, platemark
$3,800, the pair
To view other works by the Blaeu family of cartographers, including maps and city views, and plates from Joan Blaeu's three town-books of Italy, type "Blaeu" in our search engine.

Pair of views of Mount Vesuvius and Lake Avernus, sites in the volcanic region near Naples, Italy. Both are titled in French and inscribed with explanatory texts in Latin. The engraving of Vesuvius shows the famous volcano dramatically spewing smoke in the distance, while townspeople walk over a bridge. A lettered key in the lower margin labels points of interest including sites buried by ash or otherwise destroyed in previous eruptions. The engraving of Lake Avernus looks in the direction of Capua, which a caption explains is beyond the mountains. In the foreground, three men have stopped to eat at a place, a caption explains, where a mountain (now called Monte Nuovo) formed in 1538 when an earthquake swallowed the village of Tripergole. Other sites of interest around the lake are also captioned. The captions and rough translations are transcribed below.

Both plates are from Nouveau Theatre D'Italie, a four-volume set of topographical views and maps of Italy, originally engraved by the great 17th-century Dutch mapmaker Joan Blaeu, and expanded and published in the early 18th century by Pierre Mortier, one of the successors to Blaeu. A later edition was published by Rutgert Christoffel Alberts in The Hague in 1724.

The Blaeu family of cartographers, founded by Willem Janszoon Blaeu (1571-1638) in about 1604, became the largest printer in 17th century Europe and the leading cartographic publisher during the golden age of Dutch map making. After his death in 1638, the firm continued under the direction of his sons Cornelis (d. 1642) and Joan (1596-1673) until a fire destroyed the business in 1672. Read more about the Blaeu Family in our Guide to Globe Makers.

Pierre Mortier (1661-1711), a Frenchman, established a publishing house in Amsterdam by around 1685 and published or reissued maps by some of the great French and Dutch mapmakers of the late 17th and early 18th centuries, including Guillaume de L’Isle, Carel Allard, Jan Jansson and Joan Blaeu. After Mortier’s death in 1711, the family continued the business and later joined with Johannes Covens to form the firm Covens and Mortier, which also continued to publish Mortier’s maps and prints.

Vesuvius additional inscriptions: A Amsterdam Par P. Mortier Avec Privil. A. Vorago qua anno MDCXXX arsit B. Ignis ex alto instar aquae profluens. (Also marked "9" and "bg" lower left.) C. Torre del Greco, cineribus Copertus. D. La Nunciata tota etiam tecta cineribus. E. 2 Triremes quibus populus superstes sabratus. F. Pons la Nunciata dictus. G. Suburbium urbis Neapolis. H. Vorago que tempore Plinii arsit. I. Fumus ex calidis aqua et igni profluentibus. K. Monte Nivosi versus Apuham. L. Vineae Morti Aurantionum, Citronum, etc.

[At Amsterdam by P. Mortier with Privileges.
A. Pit that burned in the year 1630.
B. Fire from the sea, like running water.
C. Greek Tower, overwhelmed by ashes.
D. Said to be entirely covered with ashes.
E. 2 people survive Gallies Sabratha.
F. Said to be a bridge.
G. Suburb of the city of Naples.
H. Pit at the time of Pliny, which glowed.
I. The steam from the hot water flowing forth, and with fire.
K. Mountain snow line Apuham.
L. Dead Orchards, Vineyards, Citrus Groves, etc.]

Lacus Avernus additional inscriptions: Derriere ces Montagnes on void les restes de Capoul. Post Bosco Montes olim fuit Capua, cujus nunc panca apparent restigia. Hic antri Sibylla Cumanae introitus. Hic olim fuere Tripergole nunc mons novus, Anno 1538, terrae motu congestus, omnia tegit. Se vend A Amsterdam Chez Pierre Mortier Avec Privilege.

[Behind these mountains one sees the rest of Capua. After Bosco Mountains formerly was Capua... Cave entrance of Cumaean Sibyl. Here was once the village of Tripergole, now known as Monte Nuovo. In the year 1538, an earthquake entirely covered it. Sold at Amsterdam at Pierre Mortier with privileges.]

Condition: Each generally very good with the usual overall light toning, wear, soft creases. Vertical center fold, as issued. Later color with some age nonetheless. Wide margins.

References:

Fleet, Christopher. "Joan Blaeu." Pont Maps Biographies. National Library of Scotland. 2000. http://www.nls.uk/pont/bio/blaeu.html (17 September 2002).

Potter, Jonathan. Collecting Antique Maps: An Introduction to the History of Cartography. London: Jonathan Potter Ltd., 1988, rev. 1999. pp. 56, 102.

Tooley, R.V. Maps and Map-Makers. 4th Ed. New York: Bonanza Books, 1970. pp. 33-34.