Revised 1771 edition of D'Apres De Mannevillette's chart of the Indian Ocean, from his Neptune Orientale.
Rare 1771 edition of Mannevillette's chart, with the text box at the top left and annotation below the title detailing the 1771 revisions.
This fine large format map of the Indian Ocean is one of the most detailed and accurate generals chart of the Indian Ocean published in the second half of the 18th Century and, in this respect, represents a milestone of Enlightenment cartography, which strived for clarity and precision. The map embraces the entire Indian Ocean from around 38 degrees South up to its northernmost reaches (the Red Sea) and 34 degrees North; longitudinally, it extends from the Cape of Good Hope, in the west, all the way to include the shores of nearly half of the continent of Australia in the east.
The overall impression is of an accurate general map, familiar to the modern eye. This was the result of the careful compilation of charts form the best sources, combined with recently acquired geodetic positions taken by the crews of French Navy vessels. Generally, the mapping of India is taken from a variety of the best European sources, including French, Portuguese, Dutch, and English maps. The mapping of Africa and Arabia largely derives from Portuguese sources, and Dutch charts were used to delineate the shores of Southeast Asia and Western Australia.
This chart appeared at and just after an interesting period of French involvement in the Indian Ocean and its basin, and therefore would have been considered highly useful by a variety of stakeholders. From 1742, the India division of the Compagnie Perpétuelle des Indes (essentially the French Colonial Company), was headed by Joseph-François Marquis Dupleix, who would mount an aggressive campaign against the British and their Indian allies for control of the subcontinent. While his endeavors came to a precipitous end in 1754, Dupleix's activities were historically consequential and melodramatic.
Meanwhile, from 1735 onwards, the first French governor-general of the Mascarene Islands, Bertrand-François Mahé de La Bourdonnais, was undertaking endeavors to colonize Isle de France (now Mauritius), Île Bourbon (Réunion) and Séchelles (Seychelles). Madagascar was also of great interest, as from 1720, it had been the pirate capital of the world, praying on European, Arab and Mughal shipping.
The chart builds on a number of earlier charts by Bellin and an earlier editions of Mannevillette's chart. While there are several similar and smaller maps that cover the same region, this map is the largest of the series and captures more of Australia than Mannevillette's smaller chart of the Indian Ocean, published in 1775.
D' Après de Mannevillette (1707-1780) was a famous French sailor and hydrographer. During a voyage to China in 1728 he succeeded in correcting the latitudes of many places using new instruments. Back in France he devised a plan to correct and publish all the existing maps of the route to China: the Red Sea, the coasts of India, Malaya, the northern parts of Indonesia, Indochina and China. His Atlas Le Neptune Oriental (containing only 22 charts), was first published in 1745, and was regarded as a major achievement and a library indispensable to navigators. In 1762, d'Après was appointed director of an office established by the Compagnie des Indes for the publication of charts.
This edition of the chart is very rare on the market and provides more detail in Australia than any edition before or after.
Jean-Baptiste-Nicolas-Denis d'Après de Mannevillette (1707–1780) was a French sailor and hydrographer.
D'Après de Mannevillette was a captain for the Compagnie des Indes, and in this position, he charted the coasts of the East Indies and China. He published the Neptune Oriental for the first time in 1745. It was a major cartographical achievement and a practical resource for navigators sailing to the Indian Ocean and Asia. The 1775 edition encompassed the majority of the known world.
D'Après de Mannevillette's access to up-to-date sources of information – such as explorer´s narratives - and his eagerness to constantly update the cartography of his maps, enabled him to produce some of the most accurate charts of the 18th century.