James Cook Ends The French Mapping Myths of the 18th Century
Rare map of the Northwest Coast of America and Northeast Coast of Asia, showing Cook's Tracks through the Pacific.
This map is an updated version of the map which originally appeared in Philippe Buache's rare work, Considerations géographiques et physiques sur les nouvelles découvertes au nord de la grande mer, appellée vulgairement la Mer du Sud, published in Paris 1753-54, one of the rarest and most influential works on the discoveries along the Northwest Coast of America in the mid-18th Century.
Buache's map is based upon the earlier maps of the region, originally prepared by J.N. De L'Isle to report the Russian Discoveries in America. This De L'Isle model became the most popular presentation of the discoveries in the North Pacific for the next 50 years, as Cook, Vancouver and La Perouse explored and mapped the region, systematically eliminating some of the last great cartographic myths in the region, including the Sea of the West and several extraordinarily inaccurate treatments of the Alaskan Coastline. The present map has been updated by Dezauche to report the discoveries of Captain James Cook in the North Pacific, etc.
In addition to its rarity, this version of the De L'Isle map is noteworthy for its systematic reporting of many of the great myths of the interior of Western North America. Among the more interesting features of the map is the inclusion of Fousang's discoveries (Chinese discovery of America prior to Columbus), Conibas, Quivira, Aztlan et Tuculhuacan, Bagiopas, Mozeemleck, and a marvelous ephemeral treatment of the southwestern coastline of Alaska.
The map is also a rare look at "Lac de Fuentes," which would seem to be a last ditch effort to preserve the myth of the Sea of the West in the wake of Cook's exploration of the Northwestern Coastline. The marvelous open sea is gone, but in its place are two straits, one of which ends in the R. de los Reyes and ultimately connects to the massive inland Lake (Fuentes), and the second dissects modern Alaska, suggesting a direct water course from Southern Alaska to the Glacial Sea above North America.
Philippe Buache (1700-1773) was one of the most famous French geographers of the eighteenth century. Buache was married to the daughter of the eminent Guillaume Delisle and worked with his father-in-law, carrying on the business after Guillaume died. Buache gained the title geographe du roi in 1729 and was elected to the Academie des Sciences in the same year. Buache was a pioneering theoretical geographer, especially as regards contour lines and watersheds. He is best known for his works such as Considérations géographiques et physiques sur les découvertes nouvelles dans la grande mer (Paris, 1754).
Jean-Claude Dezauche (fl. 1780-1838) was a French map publisher. He edited and reissued the maps of Guilluame De L’Isle and Philippe Buache, two of the most skilled mapmakers of the eighteenth century. He acquired the plates of these two men’s work in 1780 from Buache’s heir, Jean Nicholas Buache. Dezauche worked in the Depot de la Marine, as had the elder Buache.