Frederick de Wit’s map of the Russian Empire, Tabula Russia Vulgo Moscovia, is an impressive testament to the cartographic artistry of Dutch mapmakers in the 17th century. Crafted in the 1670s and printed in Amsterdam in 1680, this vivacious copper engraving includes intricate original coloring, enhancing its visual allure. The copper printing plate was carved by the French Huguenot Jan l’Huilier, who had sought fled religious persecution and settled in Calvinist Amsterdam.
The map encompasses a vast expanse, spanning from the Arctic Ocean to the Black Sea and from the Gulf of Bothnia to eastern Siberia, providing detailed cartographic insight into European Russia. In meticulous detail, De Wit’s map delineates western Russia and much of Finland with groundbreaking precision. The map’s scope encompasses cities like Jaroslavl, Niznij Novgorod, and Kazan, depicting geographical nuances like their placement along rivers, within forests, and amidst vast mountain ranges.
The embellished title cartouche captures particular attention and aligns with De Wit’s high aesthetic aspirations. The composition is adorned with intricate designs and flanked by five figures, representing royalty and hunting – two elements of Russian imperial society that were intimately connected.
In sum, this map boasts many rich embellishments and is highlighted by a large, ornate cartouche teeming with human and animal figures. These elements add a sense of grandeur and cultural richness to this cartographic marvel.