Detailed 4 sheet map of England and Wales, by John Rocque, an immigrant Huguenot who worked in London from 1735 to 1762.
Little is known about the early life of Rocque, who worked as a surveyor, engraver and publisher, even though he is mentioned in nearly every major scholarly work on British maps of the period.
The map exemplifies the strong graphic presence of Rocque's signature topographic detail as well as an elaborate cartouche, here uncolored as issued. Rocque is recognized as an innovator of the British town plan and a master of large-scale cartographic style. The map of England and Wales was conceived during the high point of the map maker's career and seems to have been completed as a part of a series of four-sheet British Isles maps.
A wonderfully detailed four-sheet map with title contained within a large decorative allegorical cartouche depicting the artistic, scientific, and commercial accomplishments of the English. Abbeys and castles are duly noted. Small inset of the "Isles of Scilly." Tall ships sailing solo and as part of fleets decorate the seas around the islands.
Robert Sayer (ca. 1724-1794) was a prominent London map publisher. Robert’s father was a lawyer, but his older brother married Mary Overton, the widow of prominent mapmaker Philip Overton and the proprietor of his shop after his death. Mary continued the business for roughly a year after her marriage and then, in early 1748, it passed to Robert. Robert became a freeman of the Stationers’ Company later that year; his first advertisement as an independent publisher was released in December.
Sayer benefited from Overton’s considerable stock, which included the plates of John Senex. In the 1750s, Sayer specialized in design books and topographical prints, as well as comic mezzotints. In 1753, he, along with John Roque, published a new edition of Thomas Read’s Small British Atlas, the first of several county atlases that Sayer would publish.
Sayer’s business continued to grow. In 1760 he moved further down Fleet Street to larger premises at 53 Fleet Street. In 1766, he acquired Thomas Jefferys’ stock when the latter went bankrupt. In 1774, he entered into a partnership with John Bennett, his former apprentice. The pair specialized in American atlases, based on the work of Jefferys. They also began publishing navigational charts in the 1780s and quickly became the largest supplier of British charts in the trade.
Bennett’s mental health declined, and the partnership ended in 1784. As Sayer aged, he relied on his employees Robert Laurie and James Whittle, who eventually succeeded him. He spent more and more time at his house in Richmond. In 1794, he died in Bath.