Atlas Maps - Thinking Big

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Episode 3 of 4

Duration: 30 minutes

Documentary series charting the visual appeal and historical meaning of maps.

The Dutch Golden Age saw map-making reach a fever pitch of creative and commercial ambition. This was the era of the first ever atlases - elaborate, lavish and beautiful. This was the great age of discovery and marked an unprecedented opportunity for mapmakers, who sought to record and categorise the newly acquired knowledge of the world. Rising above the many mapmakers in this period was Gerard Mercator, inventor of the Mercator projection, who changed mapmaking forever when he published his collection of world maps in 1598 and coined the term 'atlas'.

The programme looks at some of the largest and most elaborate maps ever produced, from the vast maps on the floor of the Royal Palace in Amsterdam, to the 24-volume atlas covering just the Netherlands, to the largest atlas in the world, The Klencke Atlas. It was made for Charles II to mark his restoration in 1660. But whilst being one of the British Library's most important items, it is also one of its most fragile, so hardly ever opened. This is a unique opportunity to see inside this enormous and lavish work, and see the world through the eyes of a king.

  • Photo: The Klencke Atlas

    Photo: The Klencke Atlas

    The Klencke Atlas, the world's largest atlas, is currently held in the British Library in London (© British Library Board).

  • Photo: Klencke Atlas detail

    Photo: Klencke Atlas detail

    A close up image from the Klencke Atlas, which contains 37 maps and was completed in 1660 (© British Library Board).

Credits

Director
Steven Clarke
Producer
Steven Clarke
Executive Producer
Harry Bell

Broadcasts

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