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Attack of Gelder

by Anna Beek

Anna Beek picked the perfect time to enter the business of printing up-to-date maps of battle activity: the War of the Spanish Succession began in 1701 and spanned her entire career.

The majority of maps and battle plans we have by Beek are of sieges and attacks that took place during the War of Spanish Succession.


Anna van Westerstee Beek (also spelled “Beeck”) was born in 1657 in The Hague, a coastal city in the Dutch Republic around 40 miles southwest of Amsterdam. In 1678, she married the art dealer and publisher Barent(s) Beek and began a long career in the map publishing trade. Beek was granted a divorce by the local courts after her husband deserted her and their seven children in 1693 and took over the business of publishing maps and plans from her estranged husband. Four years after their divorce, we have records of her taking out patents under the name “Anna Westerstee, wife of Barent Beek” which signals that she had continued the business and may have assumed his guild rights.

There was a long tradition of women being intricately involved in the largest map publishing houses (called “ateliers”) in the Low Countries. Women were involved at every level of production: engraving, printing, coloring, and publishing. Ateliers could have a large network of family members working on production at any given time, including wives, daughters, sisters, and widows. It was not uncommon for a widow to take charge of a publishing operation or inherit the guild rights upon the death of a husband, including women from the famed House of Hondius. Because of this, we should not be surprised that Anna Beek ran Chez Beek as Chez Anna Beek following her divorce.

Last Updated:
21th of June, 2023

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