Landmark Map of the American Southwest -- Second Printed Map to Show the Correct Course of the Rio Grande River
Old color example of the Nolin / Coronelli map of the Southwest, the largest format regional map of the Southwest published in the 17th Century
The Nolin / Coronelli map is of great importance, being the earliest map to reproduce the information obtained by the French from Diego de Peñalosa, the governor of New Mexico from 1661 to 1665.
Centered on the Rio Grande, the map extends well beyond Taos to the Quivira and Teguaio regions. The map includes a marvelous mythical Lago de Oro opposite the Mer de Californie.
A number of annotations discuss the various provinces, early explorations dating to Cortez in 1534, Alarcon in 1540 and Cabrillo in 1542. The map also the discovery of Cinaloa by Guzamano in 1532, the discoveries of Francisco de ybarras in Nouvelle Biscaye in 1562, and notes regarding the various Indian tribes along the Rio Grande, with a reference to the discoveries of Fra Augustin Ruys in New Mexico in 1581.
In his discussion of the map, Burden notes:
This beautiful map is the most momentous map of the American south-west published to date and would remain seminal for decades to come. The major significance of the map is its depiction of the Rio Grande flowing south-east and discharging into the Gulf of Mexico and not the Gulf of California. Giovanni Battista Nicolosi had been the first to depict it so in 1660, but it was Coronelli's credibility which persuaded the cartographic community to change. . .
As further noted by Burden, much of the cartographic primacy of Coronelli's map derives from information obtained from Diego de Peñalosa, the Governor of New Mexico from 1661 to 1665. Peñalosa had been expelled in 1665 and fled first to England in 1668 and later to France in the early 1670s, where he began passing on cartographic information to the French. The Biblotheque du Depot de la Marine retains a manuscript map of the southwest based upon the reports of Peñalosa, which is likely the document referenced by Coronelli in the Avertissement of the present map, which specifically references Peñalosa and his time as governor of New Mexico as the source of the map.
Peñalosa's presence in Paris corresponds with the time period in which Coronelli was collaborating with Nolin and also constructing a monumental globe for the King of France. His access to cartographic information was essentially unlimited, so direct access to the Diego de Peñalosa manuscript information and perhaps Peñalosa himself seems probable.
While Burden originally noted 2 states of the map, there are at least 3 states of the map:
- 1687: dated 168_. With no coat of arms above the figures to the right of the title cartouche
- 1688: circa 168_, with "Corrigee et augmentee Par. le Sr. Tillemon" added.
- 1742: dated 1742
One of the most important and interesting early regional maps. An essential map for collectors of the early Southwest.
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.