Contact: Gary Fitzpatrick (202) 707-8542, Helen Dalrymple (202) 707-1940

November 15, 1993

Dutch and Flemish Heritage Featured in Library of Congress Map Exhibit

In recognition of the remarkable achievements of the Dutch and the Flemish and their contributions to various cultures throughout the world, particularly from the period 1500 to 1800, an exhibition of nearly 100 objects from the collections of the Library of Congress, including maps, atlases, prints, manuscripts, photographs and books, will be on view at the Library from November 16, 1993, until May 15, 1994. Also included in the exhibition is a model of a 17th century Dutch ship from the U.S. Naval Academy Museum.

"Leo Belgicus: The Dutch and Flemish World, 1500-1800," opens on Dutch-American Heritage Day in the corridors outside the Geography and Map Division, on the "B" Level of the James Madison Memorial Building of the Library of Congress, 101 Independence Avenue, S.E. Hours for the exhibition are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday.

The exhibition has been made possible with the support of the Embassy of the Netherlands, and Netherland-America Foundation, Netherlands-American Amity Trust, Julien G. Redele, Harold Henriquez, Minister Plenipotentiary of the Netherlands Antilles, and the Flemish community.

The opening of the exhibition is also the occasion for the celebration of the bicentenary of the U.S. Consular General in the Netherlands Antilles. His Excellency Adriaan Jacobovits de Szeged, Ambassador of the Netherlands, will present a new Dutch postal stamp commemorating this event to the Honorable Susan E. Alvarado, member of the Board of Governors, U.S. Postal Service.

The Dutch and the Flemish were among the premier mapmakers of the world from the 16th to the 18th century, as increased exploration followed the voyages of Christopher Columbus and others. These cartographers were part of the Northern Renaissance, spurred by Erasmus of Rotterdam, which originated in the 17 provinces situated between France and Germany -- variously called Germania Inferior, Les Pays Bas, Nederland, the Lowlands, or Leo Belgicus (Belgic Lion). By the 16th century, following centuries of subjugation by others, the area had become one of the wealthiest centers of commerce and culture in northwestern Europe.

Through their privately owned East India and West India companies, established in 1602 and 1621, respectively, the Dutch controlled much of the trade from the east coast of Africa to Japan, and from the west coast of Africa to the Americas. One of the reasons for their success was the excellence of the nautical charts provided to oceangoing merchants by the companies' cartographic offices in Amsterdam and Batavia. The genius of the early Dutch and Flemish cartographers is represented in this exhibition with maps by such notables as Ortelius, who produced the first modern atlas in 1570; Mercator, who gave his name to a new projection of the earth's surface that is still used by navigators; and by Hondius, Janssen, Blaeu, Visscher, Ottens and others.

Some of the highlights of the exhibition are: the 1571 edition of the first atlas, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, by Abraham Ortelius; Joannes Vingboons's early watercolor map Manatus Gelegen op de Noot River, 1639, which shows Manhattan Island and the Hudson River, including the names of property owners; a striking 1770s drawing of St. Eustatius in the Netherlands Antilles, the first foreign port to recognize the new American flag; an early map of Nagasaki harbor (1821); and a large watercolor drawing of the "foreign quarter" at Nagasaki in 1860.

The first section of the exhibition deals with some of the great cartographic works created by the Dutch and the Flemish during the 16th and 17th centuries. The other two sections treat the establishment of the East and West India companies and their influence throughout the world, including the early settlement of North America.

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PR 93-138
ISSN 0731-3527

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