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First State of An Important Enlightenment Era Mapping of the World

Marvelous pair of large scale maps of the Eastern and Western Hemisphere, showing the known World on the eve of the first Voyage of Captain James Cook.

The map is a fine example of  D'Anville enlightenment style, executing the work in a disciplined manner, so there is virtually no conjecture or myth in the details given in the two maps.

The cartographic detail represents the end of an era that was in fact filled with speculation, myth and misconception.

Western Hemisphere

The River of the West (R. courant a l'Ouest) is shown with a dashed line from Lake Ouinipigon (Winnipeg), illustrating its dubious existence, one of the last attempts to show a water course across North America.  Further east, D'Anville shows only the hope that a portage might connect Hudson's Bay with Lake Winnipeg.

In the Northwest, a massive speculative peninsula reaches out from the unknown regions which would become Russian Alaska, approximating the Aleutian Islands on a massive basis, based upon the earliest reports of Russian exploration then being received from Joseph Nicolas De L'Isle and Gerhard Friedrich Muller, reporting from St. Petersburg.

Along the Northwest coast, and outline of the coastline is forming, with notes showing Tchirikow's coastline, along with the imaginary Coast of Admiral de Fonte and the Straits of Juan de Fuca. San Francisco has not yet been discovered, but Drake's Bay and other place names in California are present.

In the middle of the North American continent, the Missouri is shown extending nearly to the Big Bend. Five Great Lakes are illustrated.  And the relative courses of the Colorado River and Rio Grande are beginning to take shape.  Baja California is well projected for the period.

Further south, New Zealand is shown with a single coastline based upon Tasman's map. Straits of Magellan, Tierra del Fuego and the southern Chilean coastlines are still largely unknown, with no sign of land in the Antarctic Regions.

Eastern Hemisphere

The most noteworthy feature is still largely undiscovered south and east coasts of Australia, where a detached Van Diemen's Land floats southeast of the main continent.

The shape of Philippines is starting to come together, but is still not well defined.

Sincapura is named, but the Strait is still poorly defined, while no sign of Hong Kong exists.

Africa is still largely unexplored in its interior.

The Arabian Peninsula is still virtually uncharted, except on its Red Sea and southern coastlines.


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.