Copper engraving, 27.5 x 36 cm, modern hand colour, blank verso.
Olfert Dapper (1636-1689) was a Dutch physician and scholar who devoted most of his life to geographical studies without ever leaving his home town of Amsterdam. Using the most reliable eye-witness accounts and his own extensive library of travel books he composed authoratitive and entertaining finely-illustrated works on Asia, Africa and America. His Naukeurige Beschrijvinghe Der Afrikaensche was first published in Dutch in 1668, in German in 1670 and in French in 1686, and it was used by John Ogilby (1600-1676) as the basis for his Africa, the best account of the continent available in English at the time, using many of the same maps and views. A decorative map of Morocco, though in Dapper’s day this part of northwest Africa was divided between the flourishing kingdoms of Morocco and Fez. The orientation of the map is East-West, which is why Spain and the Straits of Gibraltar, which are to the North, are on the right of the map. Parts of this region had been incorporated in the Roman Empire (for example, Tangiers was the Roman Tingis), but in the seventeenth-century European interest was mainly due to the coastal towns which were under Spanish or Portugese control, such as Tangiers and Ceuta which had become important commercial centres, and to the major threat of Moorish piracy from other towns along the coast. At the time this map was printed Tangiers was in English hands. It was ceded to Charles II on the occasion of his marriage to Catherine of Braganza in 1662, but was abandoned to the Moors twenty years later.