A rare sea chart of Subic Bay in the Philippines, which appeared in the second edition of Mannetvillette's Le Neptune Oriental, published in 1775.
The chart is one of the earliest obtainable detail charts of Subic Bay.
Subic Bay was discovered by the Spanish explorer Juan de Salcedo, who reported its existence to the Spanish authorities in 1542, upon his return to Manila after Salcedo arrived in Zambales to establish the Spanish crown.
The present chart was drafted by Jean-Batiste de Mannevillette (1707-80), and engraved on copper by the master engraver Guillaume Dheulland. 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. While not included in the atlas, it seems that the production of the present chart was closely associated with this project. 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.