Nice example of this early edition of Guillaume De L'Isle's map of South America.
De L'Isle's map of South America represented a significant step forward in the presentation of South America on a printed map. A more streamlined shape is adopted and the interior detail along the Amazon River and Rio de la Plata are significantly improved from earlier maps, owing to the information flowing back from the Jesuit Missionaries who were by now widely disbursed around the continent.
Despite the advances, there are still vast tracts of unexplored lands and even the coastlines of Southern Chile and Patagonia are still highly inaccurate.
One of the more interesting features on the inclusion of "P. decouvert par F. Drak," shown west of Tierra del Fuego of this mythical island is based on a misinterpretation of Sir Francis Drake's narrative of his circumnavigation of the world in 1577-79. Upon entering the Pacific, after sailing through the Strait of Magellan, Drake's ship was blown southwards by storms. In September 1578, the party encountered an island they called 'Elizabeth Island'. While modern scholars believe it to be one of the islands located in the immediate vicinity of Cape Horn, as is the case here, some believed 'Drake's Island' to have been located much further out to sea.
Guillaume De L'Isle (1675-1726) is probably the greatest figure in French cartography. Having learned geography from his father Claude, by the age of eight or nine he could draw maps to demonstrate ancient history. He studied mathematics and astronomy under Cassini, from whom he received a superb grounding in scientific cartography—the hallmark of his work. His first atlas was published in ca. 1700. In 1702 he was elected a member of the Academie Royale des Sciences and in 1718 he became Premier Geographe du Roi.
De L'Isle's work was important as marking a transition from the maps of the Dutch school, which were highly decorative and artistically-orientated, to a more scientific approach. He reduced the importance given to the decorative elements in maps, and emphasized the scientific base on which they were constructed. His maps of the newly explored parts of the world reflect the most up-to-date information available and did not contain fanciful detail in the absence of solid information. It can be fairly said that he was truly the father of the modern school of cartography at the commercial level.
De L’Isle also played a prominent part in the recalculation of latitude and longitude, based on the most recent celestial observations. His major contribution was in collating and incorporating this latitudinal and longitudinal information in his maps, setting a new standard of accuracy, quickly followed by many of his contemporaries. Guillaume De L’Isle’s work was widely copied by other mapmakers of the period, including Chatelain, Covens & Mortier, and Albrizzi.