Nice example of Nolin's scarce map of Asia.
The map is the work of the remarkable collaboration between Venetian mapmaker Vincenzo Maria Coronelli and Jean Baptiste Nolin, who would later become the Royal Geographer under Louis XIV in 1701. The most famous product of Coronelli's time in Paris, working with Nolin, would be the remarkable 4 meter diameter globes created for Louis XIV, completed in 1683, which now reside in the Bibliothèque Nationale François Mitterrand in Paris.
Published after Coronelli's return to Venice, the map is an exceptional amalgam of the best information available to French mapmakers at the end of the 17th Century, crediting the following explorers and travelers:
- Johann Gruebner (Jesuit Missionary in China)
- Athanasius Kircher
- Jean de Thevenot
- Francois Bernier (French physician and traveler)
- "Sieur Nikiposa" (traveler to Russia)
- Cantel (Giacomo Cantelli?)
The map provides an excellent treatment of Asia at the end of the 17th Century, including a depiction of the Great Wall of China and the Gobi Desert. The Northeastern coastal regions above Japan are still virtually unknown to western travelers and would remain so until the Russian explorations in the 18th Century.
The Philippines is still badly misshapen.
The Northern Coast of Australia is shown, including the Kingdom of Lucach (Roy de Lucach), a country far south of China mentioned by Marco Polo. The name is widely believed to be a variant of Lo-huk: the Cantonese name for the southern Thai kingdom of Lopburi (also known as Lavapura and Louvo), which was a province of the Khmer Empire at the time, but here appears in northwestern Australia, a remnant of its appearance in "Terra Australis" or the unknown southern continent on 16th Century maps. Similarly the Kingdom of Maletur, a Sumatran kingdom describe by Marco Polo, is also shown.
With the agreement of Coronelli (who receives credit in the title), Nolin issued this single sheet map of Asia, which first appeared circa 1688. While the map is based upon Coronelli's 2 sheet map of Asia, Coronelli's map did not appear in his Atlante Veneto until 1691.
Vincenzo Maria Coronelli (1650-1718) was one of the most influential Italian mapmakers and was known especially for his globes and atlases. The son of a tailor, Vincenzo was apprenticed to a xylographer (a wood block engraver) at a young age. At fifteen he became a novice in a Franciscan monastery. At sixteen he published his first book, the first of 140 publications he would write in his lifetime. The order recognized his intellectual ability and saw him educated in Venice and Rome. He earned a doctorate in theology, but also studied astronomy. By the late 1670s, he was working on geography and was commissioned to create a set of globes for the Duke of Parma. These globes were five feet in diameter. The Parma globes led to Coronelli being named theologian to the Duke and receiving a bigger commission, this one from Louis XIV of France. Coronelli moved to Paris for two years to construct the King’s huge globes, which are 12.5 feet in diameter and weigh 2 tons.
The globes for the French King led to a craze for Coronelli’s work and he traveled Europe making globes for the ultra-elite. By 1705, he had returned to Venice. There, he founded the first geographical society, the Accademia Cosmografica degli Argonauti and was named Cosmographer of the Republic of Venice. He died in 1718.
Jean-Baptiste Nolin (ca. 1657-1708) was a French engraver who worked at the turn of the eighteenth century. Initially trained by Francois de Poilly, his artistic skills caught the eye of Vincenzo Coronelli when the latter was working in France. Coronelli encouraged the young Nolin to engrave his own maps, which he began to do.
Whereas Nolin was a skilled engraver, he was not an original geographer. He also had a flair for business, adopting monikers like the Geographer to the Duke of Orelans and Engerver to King XIV. He, like many of his contemporaries, borrowed liberally from existing maps. In Nolin’s case, he depended especially on the works of Coronelli and Jean-Nicholas de Tralage, the Sieur de Tillemon. This practice eventually caught Nolin in one of the largest geography scandals of the eighteenth century.
In 1700, Nolin published a large world map which was seen by Claude Delisle, father of the premier mapmaker of his age, Guillaume Delisle. Claude recognized Nolin’s map as being based in part on his son’s work. Guillaume had been working on a manuscript globe for Louis Boucherat, the chancellor of France, with exclusive information about the shape of California and the mouth of the Mississippi River. This information was printed on Nolin’s map. The court ruled in the Delisles’ favor after six years. Nolin had to stop producing that map, but he continued to make others.
Calling Nolin a plagiarist is unfair, as he was engaged in a practice that practically every geographer adopted at the time. Sources were few and copyright laws weak or nonexistent. Nolin’s maps are engraved with considerable skill and are aesthetically engaging.
Nolin’s son, also Jean-Baptiste (1686-1762), continued his father’s business.