Scarce Dutch Edition of Bellin's map of Korea
This attractive map features an early broadly accurate depiction of Korea, based on sources sent to France via China. Unlike earlier representations that showed Korea to be an island or a severely misshaped part of mainland Asia, Bellin's map's presents Korea as a peninsula in a form roughly familiar to the modern eye. Numeorus cities and rivers are labeled and the various provinces are elegantly distinguished by color.
As the ruling Joseon Dynasty had strictly forbidden Westerners from visiting Korea, the peninsula remained an almost complete enigma to Europeans until well into the 18th Century. However, around 1710, China's Kangxi Emperor dispatched agents to Seoul, who returned with detailed maps and geographical descriptions of Korea. This intelligence was given to the Jesuit Jean-Baptiste de Regis, who created a series of manuscript maps which featured a broadly accurate depictions of Korea. These maps were published in China as part of the Kangxi Atlas (1718-19).
The leading French cartographer Jean-Baptiste Bourguignon D'Anville (1697-1782), acquired copies of the Kangxi maps, including the maps of Korea and devised his own interpretations, first printed in Jean-Baptiste Du Halde's Description Geographique … de la Chine (Paris, 1735).
Jacques-Nicolas Bellin (1703-1772), the Royal Hydrographer to Louis XV, claimed the present map to have derived his sources from "an English map" so as to avoid a copyright dispute, when in reality he used the work of his rival D'Anville as his model.
Jakob van der Schley was a skilled draftsman and engraver who operated out of Amsterdam and had strong ties with the Hague. He was trained by Bernard Picart and his style resembles that of the elder man. Van der Schely was known for intricately engraved portraits and frontispieces. He signed most of the plates used in the Hague edition of the Abbe Prevost's Histoire generale des voyages.