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Extremely Rare Plan & View of San Juan

San Juan, Puerto Rico. DE LAET, J. (GERRITSZ, H.?) [Amsterdam, 1644]
Grondt-Teeckening vande stadt en kasteel Porto Rico Ende Gelegenheyt vande Haven. [With:] Porto Rico/ Arx Cum Sua Turri/ Arx Post Turrim A Nostris Deictam. Both approx. 10 x 13 inches.
Both in fine condition


Very rare plan and view that provide some of the earliest, realistic depictions of San Juan. The well-detailed plan of the port of San Juan shows the positions and fortifications of both combatants in the 1625 attempt by the Dutch General Bowdoin Hendrick to capture the port from the Spanish. The view provides a bird’s-eye view of the town itself, thus illustrating what is shown by symbols on the plan. It has the appearance of a spare sketch drawn on the spot, as opposed to being an imaginatively enhanced portrait of the town. Above the town view, its primary fort is twice illustrated: as seen prior to the battle and after, with its tower destroyed.
The plan indicates several castles, churches, dwellings and the town's market square and also details the defenses of the Spanish as well as the earthworks of the Dutch attackers. Fresh-water wells, fields and sugar-works are also noted; there is a drawbridge connecting the fortified town with the mainland. Though the town was badly burned during the siege of the fort, the Dutch were repulsed with the loss of a ship and over 400 dead.
The plan and view appeared in 1644 in a very rare history of the Dutch West India Company authored by Johannes De Laet. The Historie ofte Iaerlijck Verhael Van de Verrichtingen der Geoctroyeerde West-Indische Compagnie was published by Bonaventure and Abraham Elsevier. These plan and view, however, were most likely authored by Hessel Gerritsz, who was the chief cartographer of both the Dutch West and East India companies. Not only does the map’s engraving have the precision and clarity that characterized Gerritsz’ style, but he is also known to have produced the maps for De Laet’s more commonly seen, general work on the Americas, Beschrijvinghe van West-Indien (1630).

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