D'Anville's map of the Gulf Coast from the Tallahassee area to around the mouth of the Sabine in Texa is one of the best obtainable large format maps of the region. The map tracks the Mississippi, Arkansas, Red, Osage and Missouri Rivers, and includes excellent large inset of the Mississippi River Valley from the Arkansas to above the Missouri Rivers. It is known that Thomas Jefferson acquired 7 of D'Anville's maps in 1787, almost certainly, this was one of them. Jefferson commented to Gallatin about the importance of this map. Meriwether Lewis obtained a copy prior to the Lewis & Clark Expedition. JBB D'Anville was one of the dominant names in French Cartography after 1740, publishing a number of large format maps and made to order atlases, containing the best contemporary information. Most of the information derived from Valentin Devin, who arrived in Pensacola in 1719 and began producing highly regarded maps immediately upon his arrival on the Gulf Coast, until expelled by the Spanish after a three year struggle. Devin used his information and materials gathered from Le Maire and others to produce a number of manuscript maps which were sent back to France and resulted in a series of marvelous maps by De L'Isle, Buache and finally D'Anville, whose maps of the Gulf Coast formed the standard for a number of years. A fine example, in full wash color. Flags Along The Coast, p.94.
Jean-Baptiste Bourguignon d’Anville (1697-1782) was one of the foremost French geographers of the eighteenth century. He carried out rigorous research in order to create his maps, which greatly developed the technical proficiency of mapmaking during his lifetime. His style was also simpler and less ornate than that of many of his predecessors. It was widely adopted by his contemporaries and successors.
The son of a tailor, d’Anville showed cartographic prowess from a young age; his first map, of Ancient Greece, was published when he was only fifteen years old. By twenty-two, he was appointed as one of the King’s géographes ordinaire de roi. He tutored the young Louis XV while in the service to the Crown. However, royal appointment did not pay all the bills, so d’Anville also did some work for the Portuguese Crown from 1724. For example, he helped to fill out Dom João V’s library with geographical works and made maps showing Portugal’s African colonies.
D’Anville disapproved of merely copying features from other maps, preferring instead to return to the texts upon which those maps were based to make his own depictions. This led him to embrace blank spaces for unknown areas and to reject names which were not supported by other sources. He also amassed a large personal map library and created a network of sources that included Jesuits in China and savants in Brazil. D’Anville’s historical approach to cartography resulted in magnificently detailed, yet modern and academic, maps. For example, his 1743 map of Italy improved upon all previous maps and included a memoir laying out his research and innovations. The geographer also specialized in ancient historical geography.
In 1773, d’Anville was named premier géographe de roi. In 1780, he ceded his considerable library to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to be used for as a reference library for diplomats. D’Anville is best known for several maps, including his map of China, first published in 1735, and then included with Du Halde’s history of that country (the Hague, 1737). His map of Africa (1749) was used well into the nineteenth century.