Willem Blaeu (1571 – 1638) was a leading Dutch engraver from the sixteenth century, who created a cartographic dynasty. Willem and the rest of the Blaeu family were responsible for producing some of the finest maps of the period, known for their high quality, sense of design, and beautiful cartouches.
Throughout his life, Willem Blaeu was always known for his highly technical work. In addition to the detail and precision of his maps, he worked as an instrument maker and a globe-manufacturer. He applied this highly technical approach to his career as an engraver and printer and was able to improve the printing process.
He began his career under the tutelage of Tyco Brahe and was appointed as a mapmaker to the Dutch Republic in 1633. He developed his ambition to publish an atlas that would encompass the whole world. It was his son, Johannes (1596 – 1673), who finally saw the publication of Atlas Maior in 1662. The atlas contained nearly 600 superb and highly decorative maps. The Blaeu family also produced the earliest maps of Scotland, engraved from the surveys taken by Timothy Pont in the latter part of the sixteenth century.