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Fine Example of D’Anville’s Map of Paraguay in Fine Original Color

Detailed and scarcely-seen map of the Jesuit missions in central South America, based upon the observations of the Jesuit missionaries and the latest maps. This example is from a 1734 publication of Jesuit letters and materials and is rarer than the re-paginated example published in the later eighteenth century.

The map shows the area that now makes up parts of the countries of Chile, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina. Mountains and rivers are shown in all the territories. In addition to key towns and villages, shown with a small building symbol, there is a key just under the cartouche which explains other features. These include destroyed villages, destroyed missions, and locales of importance to the tribes in contact with the Jesuits.

In the upper right corner is a decorative cartouche. A floral frame contains the title, which is topped with books and the Christogram of the Jesuits. The Christogram, IHS, derives from the first three letters of the name of Jesus in the Greek alphabet.

The Society of Jesus and Paraguay

The Society of Jesus was founded in 1540 by Ingatius of Loyola, Francis Xavier, and Peter Faber. Known for erudition and evangelism, Jesuits were often the first order to set up missions around the world and they provided much of the information about new places for European savants like D’Anville. Their priests were famous for being well-educated, hence the books in this cartouche.

The Jesuits began setting up missions in South America in the sixteenth century. These were not simply churches, but new communities where indigenous peoples lived and worked near or in connection with the priests. These mission-oriented communities were known as reductions. The area with the largest reductions were in Paraguay and the Río de la Plata area, where the Jesuits worked among the Guaraní people. There, the Jesuits practically operated their own state within a state, governing with little influence from Spanish and Portuguese authorities.

Just when this map was made, in 1733, the Río de la Plata missions were at their high point, with 141, 182 peoples living in 30 missions as of 1732. Less than three decades later, in 1759, the Jesuits were expelled from the Portuguese Empire due to political disputes in Europe. In 1767, they were also expelled from the Spanish Empire, ending the reduction system illustrated on this map.

 D’Anville and his sources

In the lower right corner, there are three scale bars which show Spanish, German, and French leagues. Below this is a note which discusses D’Anville’s method in creating the map. It translates as:

In the composition of this map, it appeared to the author, that what country contains was too extensive between the East and the West in the preceding Maps. Thus to measure the interval from one sea to another, from St. Vincent to Arica, we find about 120 of our leagues Francoises less than those of XXX and 400 leagues or less than those of XXX. On the distance from Buenos Ayres to the South Sea Coast, the difference is 80 leagues, or 260 or so. We would have liked to be able to give more grandeur [meaning size] to this map, to put more of the details that are not elsewhere.

In this comment, D’Anville reveals his process for mapmaking. As a cabinet geographer, D’Anville relied on comparing all available sources about an area; he did not undertake surveying himself. In the comment, he is criticizing other mapmakers for their inconsistent and erroneous efforts to depict the width of South America. Although he leaves their names off the map, he is still trying to show himself as superior to his rivals. He also chafes at the small size of the map, which was meant to be bound in a book, which limited how much detail he could include.

D’Anville wanted to include so much detail because he was then involved in creating a definitive map of South America. The printed version of this map, the Carte de l’Amérique Méridionale, was not printed until 1748, fifteen years after the present example. However, D’Anville was already at work on revising the cartography of South America. He produced an early version of the 1748 map in manuscript for the Duc d’Orleans in 1737.

D’Anville was receiving some sources for this South America project from his contacts in Portugal. Since 1724, D’Anville had been contracted to work for the Portuguese Crown, in addition to his position with the French Crown. This allowed him access to otherwise hard-to-locate documents.

D’Anville also used other printed maps, for example those of Juan Francisco D'Avila's rare map of the Jesuit provinces, first issued in 1726. The map includes a number of improvements and the addition of more detail in areas largely ignored by D'Avila. Another influence was the map prepared by Father Antonio Maccioni and Father Jerónimo Herrán, whose work was published in Rome in 1732 by Joannes Petroschi.

Not only did this map influence D’Anville’s later cartography, but it also was used by diplomats long after D’Anville’s death. The map was one of many cited in a submission from Brazil to the United States in 1889. The United States were acting as arbiter in a boundary dispute between Brazil and Argentina and historical cartography was one of the sources of evidence used to shore up their claims.

The map was prepared for a Catholic publication, the Lettres Edifiantes et Curiuses ecrites des Missions Etrangers (1734). It was included in volume 21, at page 229, as indicated by the page number in the upper left corner. D'Anville included a memoir about the map in the same book. 

A later state of the map has a different page number, as the Lettres were re-issued in 1780-3. However, this earlier example, with a volume 21 page number, survives in fewer examples based on holdings in institutional collections.

Condition Description
Fine original color
Jorge Pimentel Cintra and Júnia Furreira Furtado, “Bourguignon D’Anville’s Carte de l’Amérique Méridionale: a comparative Amazonian cartography in perspective,” Revista Brasileira de História 31, no. 62 (2011): 277-319; Miguel de Asúa, Science in the Vanished Arcadia: Knowledge of Nature in the Jesuit Missions of Paraguay and Rio de la Plata (Leiden: Brill, 2014), 173; Statement Submitted by the United States of Brazil to the President of the United States of America As Arbitrator Under The Provisions of the Treaty Concluded September 7, 1899 Between Brazil and the Argentine Republic, 1899 (New York, 1894), 133.
Jean-Baptiste Bourguignon d'Anville Biography

Jean-Baptiste Bourguignon d’Anville (1697-1782) was one of the foremost French geographers of the eighteenth century. He carried out rigorous research in order to create his maps, which greatly developed the technical proficiency of mapmaking during his lifetime. His style was also simpler and less ornate than that of many of his predecessors. It was widely adopted by his contemporaries and successors.

The son of a tailor, d’Anville showed cartographic prowess from a young age; his first map, of Ancient Greece, was published when he was only fifteen years old. By twenty-two, he was appointed as one of the King’s géographes ordinaire de roi. He tutored the young Louis XV while in the service to the Crown. However, royal appointment did not pay all the bills, so d’Anville also did some work for the Portuguese Crown from 1724. For example, he helped to fill out Dom João V’s library with geographical works and made maps showing Portugal’s African colonies.  

D’Anville disapproved of merely copying features from other maps, preferring instead to return to the texts upon which those maps were based to make his own depictions. This led him to embrace blank spaces for unknown areas and to reject names which were not supported by other sources. He also amassed a large personal map library and created a network of sources that included Jesuits in China and savants in Brazil. D’Anville’s historical approach to cartography resulted in magnificently detailed, yet modern and academic, maps. For example, his 1743 map of Italy improved upon all previous maps and included a memoir laying out his research and innovations. The geographer also specialized in ancient historical geography.

In 1773, d’Anville was named premier géographe de roi. In 1780, he ceded his considerable library to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to be used for as a reference library for diplomats. D’Anville is best known for several maps, including his map of China, first published in 1735, and then included with Du Halde’s history of that country (the Hague, 1737). His map of Africa (1749) was used well into the nineteenth century.