Finely engraved chart of the Constellations of the Northern Hemisphere, designed by Gabriel Phillipe de la Hire, one of France's most noted astronomers and a member of the Royal Academy of Science.
La Hire's constellation figures are influenced by Johann Bayer's great star atlas ( Uranometria, 1603), although La Hire did not use Bayer's system of number stars based upon their brightness. In his treatise on Celestial maps, Warner identifies Sir Edmund Halley as one of the prime sources for the text surrounding the Constellations.
The son of a distinguished Paris art professor, Phillipe de la Hire (1640-1718) studied art in Italy before turning to science and mathematics, where he distinguished himself by publishing important treatises on conics. La Hire is best known for his design of charts of the Constellations of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, which were published by Nicolas De Fer, one of France's most important map publishers.
The map was engraved by Hendrick van Loon, who was responsible for a number of the most important French maps of the late 17th and early 18th Centuries. The map was re-issued by De Fer's son-in-law Guillaume Danet, and later with the imprint of De Fer's successor Louis-Charles Desnos.
Nicholas de Fer (1646-1720) was the son of a map seller, Antoine de Fer, and grew to be one of the most well-known mapmakers in France in the seventeenth century. He was apprenticed at twelve years old to Louis Spirinx, an engraver. When his father died in 1673, Nicholas helped his mother run the business until 1687, when he became the sole proprietor.
His earliest known work is a map of the Canal of Languedoc in 1669, while some of his earliest engravings are in the revised edition of Methode pour Apprendre Facilement la Geographie (1685). In 1697, he published his first world atlas. Perhaps his most famous map is his wall map of America, published in 1698, with its celebrated beaver scene (engraved by Hendrick van Loon, designed by Nicolas Guerard). After his death in 1720, the business passed to his sons-in-law, Guillaume Danet and Jacques-Francois Benard.