The Blaeu-van der Hem Atlas, a collective work including more than 2000 plates showing old city and landscape pictures in 50 volumes, was compiled by the Amsterdam lawyer Laurens van der Hem, on the basis of the Atlas Major by Joan Blaeu, in the years from 1662 to 1678. This complete and all-encompassing compendium offers a unique overview of seventeenth century geography, history and culture.
The work of Van der Hem dedicates a full volume to Switzerland; all views and engravings were made by Matthäus Merian of Basel and colourfully illustrated by Dirck Jansz van Santen. The overall impression of the engravings is further enhanced by the painted landscapes added to the original vistas. The illuminator successfully transformed the former copper plates with their strong chiarioscuro effects into serene and brightly coloured landscapes of old Switzerland in unparalleled form.