First state of Sanson's scarce map of China and Korea, first published in 1656.
This important and attractive French map of China is based on an indigenous Chinese map copied by Jesuit, Matteo Ricci, and brought back to Rome in 1590 by his fellow Jesuit, Michele Ruggieri.
The map extends to include the northern tip of the Philippines and a curiously curved Korean peninsula. Korea was usually shown as an island in the 17th century, so Sanson's depiction is a cartographic improvement. The Great Wall forms the northern boundary and the map is filled with rivers, mountains and villages. A detailed explanation panel in bottom right is surmounted by Pheme, the personification of fame and renown.
Nicholas Sanson (1600-1667) is considered the father of French cartography in its golden age from the mid-seventeenth century to the mid-eighteenth. Over the course of his career he produced over 300 maps; they are known for their clean style and extensive research. Sanson was largely responsible for beginning the shift of cartographic production and excellence from Amsterdam to Paris in the later-seventeenth century.
Sanson was born in Abbeville in Picardy. He made his first map at age twenty, a wall map of ancient Gaul. Upon moving to Paris, he gained the attention of Cardinal Richelieu, who made an introduction of Sanson to King Louis XIII. This led to Sanson's tutoring of the king and the granting of the title ingenieur-geographe du roi.
His success can be chalked up to his geographic and research skills, but also to his partnership with Pierre Mariette. Early in his career, Sanson worked primarily with the publisher Melchior Tavernier. Mariette purchased Tavernier’s business in 1644. Sanson worked with Mariette until 1657, when the latter died. Mariette’s son, also Pierre, helped to publish the Cartes générales de toutes les parties du monde (1658), Sanson' atlas and the first French world atlas.