The cartographer, publisher, book printer and bookseller Joan Blaeu was born 1599-1600 in Alkmaar in the Netherlands. After completing his studies in Leiden, Joan Blaeu made a number of trips abroad, mainly to Italy. From 1631, he worked for his father Willem Janszoon Blaeu (1571–1638).
In 1536, Joan Blaeu published the "Atlas Novus" for the first time, and during the following years, continually expanded and reprinted the book. After the death of his father, Blaeu ran the family business in Amsterdam, together with his brother Cornelius (between 1638–42). He eventually managed the business by himself. In 1649, Blaeu published "Theatre of Cities", which included bird’s-eye maps and views of Dutch cities. Joan Blaeu also broadened international relations and became printer to the King of Sweden. In 1659, he opened another printing business in Vienna. In 1655, he published the "Atlas Maior – Cosmographia Blaviana", in 5 volumes, and then again in 1662, in 11 volumes. The book contained approximately 600 maps and a total of 3000 pages.
In 1667, Blaeu opened his second printing business in Graavenstraat, which was destroyed in the great fire of 1672. Jan Blaeu died in 1673 in Amsterdam.