Wall Map of the Ottoman Empire at the dawn of the 19th Century
Fine example of Aaron Arrowsmith’s large and detailed map of the Ottoman Empire and the Black Sea, with Cyprus, Crete and the Greek Islands in the Mediterranean Sea, Albania, Bosnia and Herzogovinia.
The map illustrates the Ottoman Empire at the tail end of its domination of Greece and the Balkans. Within 30 years, Greece would gain its independence.
As noted by Rumsey:
Arrowsmith's large and detailed map of the Ottoman Empire and the Black Sea. By the beginning of the nineteenth century the Ottoman Empire had fallen some way from the lofty heights of 1683, when it had threatened the gates of Vienna. The Russo-Turkish wars of the eighteenth century most notably that of 1768-1774 weakened the Empire considerably, and by the time of the present map's publication many of the Great European powers believed her break-up to be imminent. The ramifications of the Empire's gradual decline became know as the Eastern Question; with Britain, Austria, France, and Russia increasingly using the Empire as a pawn in their diplomatic games.
At the time of the production of the map during the Napoleonic War - Britain was increasingly concerned by both Russian and French involvement in Ottoman affairs. She feared not only Russian designs on Constantinople and her wish for a Mediterranean port; but also that control by either power of the Eastern Mediterranean would lead to British interests - most notably in India being severely compromised."
Aaron Arrowsmith (1750-1823) was born in Durham in 1750. He came to London for work around 1770, where he found employment as a surveyor for the city’s mapmakers. By 1790, he had set up his own shop which specialized in general charts. Arrowsmith’s three shops were located on or near Soho Square, a neighborhood the led him to rub shoulders with the likes of Joseph Banks, the naturalist, and Matthew Flinders, the hydrographer. Through his business ties and employment at the HO, Arrowsmith made other important relationships with Alexander Dalrymple, the HBC, and other companies. In 1810 he became Hydrographer to the Prince of Wales and, in 1820, Hydrographer to the King. He died in 1823, whereby the business passed to his sons, Aaron and Samuel, and, later, his nephew, John.