Map of the Zwin Area

Jan de Hervy
108 m x 43.5 m
Inventory number: 
Groeninge Museum Bruges
16th century Bruges painting

Despite the vulnerable condition and the multiple layers of paintings, this map on canvas is a noteworthy and important document in the realm of landscape painting and cartography. The map is also viewed as a legal and political instrument in discussions and is connected with the digging of a canal that served as a connection between the Zwin and the Westerschelde, in order to counter the silting up of the Zwin by means of a new water source. The Bruges’ city magistrate commissioned the job in 1506 for the artist to represent the hydrography of the Zwinstreek to the north and east of Bruges. The accent is then also primarily on the representation of the waterways, sluices, dikes, and watermills, which are depicted from a bird’s-eye perspective. This painted map must not be seen as an exact rendering of the area, but rather as an object in the function of the building works on the Zwin. The work of Jan de Hervy is at the origin of the Bruges’ cartography tradition that was later built upon by Provoost, Pourbus and Pieter II Claeissens.