A rare sea chart, focusing on Manila Bay and its environs, from the second and greatly enlarged and revised edition of Mannevillette's, Neptune Oriental in 1775.
The chart extends from the North coast of Mindoro Island to north of Pointe de Capones, centered on Manilla Bay and Subec Bay. It is based on the most progressive sources available to the French Navy. European interest in Manila Bay, and the Philippines in general, was heightened upon hearing news of British Admiral George Anson's capture of a Spanish Manila Galleon off of Cabo Espiritu Santo, in 1743.
The present chart was drafted by Jean-Batiste de Mannevillette (1707-80). Mannevillette apprenticed under the great royal cartographer Guillaume De L'Isle. He then joined the maritime service of the Compagnie des Indes, eventually attaining the rank of captain. Upon his return to Paris, Mannevillette was appointed as director of the Dépôt des Cartes et Plans de la Navigation des Indes. In 1745, he published the first edition of his sea atlas of Asian waters, Le Neptune Oriental. The high quality of Mannevillette's charts won him the acclaim of both mariners and academics alike, and he was admitted as a fellow of the Academy of Sciences. He published a second, heavily revised, edition of the Neptune Oriental in 1775.
Jean-Baptiste Nicolas Denis d’Après de Mannevillette (1707-1780) was a French sailor and hydrographer celebrated for his excellently-rendered charts. Mannevillette was born into a maritime family and he joined his father on a French East India Company voyage to India aged only twelve. A clever boy, he returned to France to study navigation, chartmaking, and mathematics with Joseph-Nicolas De L’Isle. At nineteen, he was back at sea, working his way up the ranks of the French East India Company’s merchant fleet.
In his work with the company—he was eventually promoted captain—Mannevillette sailed to the Indian Ocean many times. En route, he was constantly gathering and correcting hydrographic knowledge. He was also skilled at using the latest navigational instruments, like the octant and later the sextant, which allowed him to make his charts especially accurate for their time. He compiled his work into his most significant publication, Le Neptune Oriental, which was commissioned by the French East India Company and first published in 1745. It was released in an expanded second edition in 1775, with posthumous expansions in 1781 and 1797.
The Neptune earned Mannevillette many accolades. The company made him Director of Charts at Lorient in 1762. In 1767, King Louis XV gave him the Order of St. Michael and named him an associate of the Royal Marine Academy.