Western Sheet of Tomas Lopez's rare Spanish sea chart of Florida, Louisiana, the Gulf Coast, Texas and Caribbean.
A beautiful and very rare Spanish maritime chart of Florida, Louisiana, parts of Texas and the whole of the Caribbean.
Tomás López, one the most important Spanish map-makers, was the official cartographer to the King of Spain during the second half of the 18th Century. This sea chart is one of a small handful relating to North America to be published in Spain during this period. The chart was published under the direction of Lopez and and Juan de la Cruz in Madrid in 1755 and is based on d'Anville's work.
The geographical area depicted extends beyond the Caribbean to include Central America and the Caribbean, including the northern coast of South America. As is to be expected with a maritime chart, the northern portion of the gulf shows only coastal features (with some inlets, bays and river-mouths), with Florida drawn as a series of closely associated islands on the eastern and southern tip. The land region of the northern gulf is labeled "Luisiana"; and Mexico is noted as "Nueva Espana".
The sea areas are criss-crossed with rhumb lines and compass roses. There is an elaborate and very attractive rococo cartouche with the title including a dedication to Ferdinand VI of Spain, and the Spanish Royal coat of arms, fruits and vegetables from the New World, a bow and quiver with arrows and a native headdress, as well as an European sword and shield.
The publication date of 1755 is significant as it marks the second year of the French and Indian War (or Seven Year's War as the conflict as a whole was known in Europe). By the war's end, France was compelled to relinquish virtually the entirety of its American empire. Canada and the Ohio Valley were ceded to Great Britain, and all of Louisiana west of the Mississippi was transferred to Spain. López published this chart to allow an overview of the numerous islands and southern coastal regions that were being fought over by the three main combatants.
Tomás López de Vargas Machuca (1730-1802) was one of Spain’s most prominent cartographers in the eighteenth century. He was born in Toledo but studied at the Colegio Imperial in Madrid, where he focused on mathematics, grammar, and rhetoric. Along with a small group of colleagues, in 1752 the Spanish government sent López for training in Paris with the renowned geographer Jean Baptiste Bourguignon d’Anville. When he returned to Spain he was named Geógrafo de los dominios de Su Magestad and put in charge of the geographic collections of Charles III. He published many maps, including his fascinating maps of the Americas, and a variety of geography manuals. Some of his most famous maps are of the Iberian Peninsula, part of his large project to create a majestic atlas of Spain. Unfinished in his lifetime, López's children published the Atlas Geográfico de España (Geographical Atlas of Spain) in 1804. It was republished in 1810 and 1830.