Map of Germany, 1768, Blair
A Map of Germany divided into its Circles by John Blair, 1768
The Germany depicted in John Blair's exquisite map was not a single country at this time, but an empire that consisted of different states, including rivals Austria and Prussia. The Kingdom of Prussia was the most powerful of the German states, and King Frederick II, also known as Frederick the Great, held sway over the Empire.
An enlightened absolutist, Frederick was a powerful monarch who held the principles of the French Enlightenment in the highest esteem and even invited philosopher Voltaire - later his lifelong friend - to live in the royal court. His reign was one of great military might (including the acquisition of Poland in the Seven Years' War) and great advancement in the arts and education. Religious tolerance was encouraged, and the quality of life for Jews in the German Empire improved. He also increased agricultural wealth and freed peasants from their serfdom, allowing those wealthy enough to buy and sell their own land. Although this bettered relations between peasants and nobles overall, many were left homeless and were forced to immigrate to America.
Despite Frederick the Great's distaste for German culture, German art flourished during this period. Sturm und Drang (translated as "storm and stress") is an artistic movement that cropped up in the German Empire during the 1770s as a reaction against popular French Enlightenment principles. Sturm und Drang stresses the importance and romantic value of German language, heritage and art. It emphasizes emotion and the individual as opposed to the scientific rationality of the Enlightenment. Although the movement inspired dramatists, writers, and visual artists, it is the music of the period that truly left its mark on European history. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Joseph Haydn and Johann Sebastian Bach are legends of the Sturm und Drang movement and composed some of their greatest works in the 1770s.
John Blair, the mapmaker, was born in Edinburgh, Scotland sometime early in the 18th century, though his exact birth date is unknown. He became a British clergymen and a chaplain for Augusta, the Princess of Wales and a tutor of mathematics for her son, Edward, Duke of York during the reign of King George III. John Blair's masterpiece is the Chronology and History of the World, first published in London in 1754 and reprinted until 1904. This map, engraved by Thomas Kitchin, is from the 1768 edition, the first to include maps of the modern and ancient world to accompany his tables of chronology.
Samuel Augustus Mitchell (1792-1868) turned his attention to mapmaking in the 1830s, due to his dissatisfaction with available school maps. He developed a map publishing business that would make him and later his son the most prominent American map publishers of the nineteenth century. By collaborating with prominent mapmakers and engravers of the day, such as James H. Young and Henry S. Tanner, Mitchell ensured that the maps he published were of the highest quality. During the 1850s, he partnered with Thomas, Cowperthwait, & Company to publish his A New Universal Atlas and his General Atlas. In 1860, his son Samuel Augustus, Jr, joined the company and he ensured that the Mitchell name remained an important one well into the 1880s.
Thomas, Cowperthwait, and Company was founded sometime in the early 1800s by Joseph Thomas and Hulings Cowperthwait. It operated under this name until 1853. The following year the company name changed to Cowperthwait, Desilver, and Butler. However, this configuration only lasted for about a year, before it became H. Cowperthwait & Company in 1856. After 1860, it appears the company experienced several more alterations, before ceasing publication at the end of the century.
- Onastasia Youssef
Plate size: 22" x 16.5"
Sheet size: 24.75" x 17.5"
Condition: Excellent condition