Detailed map of a part of Brazil, extending from the mouth of the Rio de la Plata in the south to Cativa and Barre d' Iguape in the north. In the south of the map, Rio de Janeiro can be identified as a large bay on the coast, with Sao Paulo nearby. Many rivers, ports, towns, islands, and mountains are shown and denominated. In the northwest of the map is described a "stretch of the country deserted and little known." The map is attractively presented and delicately colored.
The map appeared in Jacques Nicolas Bellin's Le Petit Atlas Maritime Recueti de Cartes et Plans des Quatre Parlies du Monde en Cinq Volumes, first published in Paris in 1764. The Atlas was a delightful small-sized pilot, showing many places of interest around the world.
Jacques-Nicolas Bellin (1703-1772) was among the most important mapmakers of the eighteenth century. In 1721, at only the age of 18, he was appointed Hydrographer to the French Navy. In August 1741, he became the first Ingénieur de la Marine of the Dépôt des cartes et plans de la Marine (the French Hydrographic Office) and was named Official Hydrographer of the French King.
During his term as Official Hydrographer, the Dépôt was the one of the most active centers for the production of sea charts and maps in Europe. Their output included a folio-format sea atlas of France, the Neptune Francois. He also produced a number of sea atlases of the world, including the Atlas Maritime and the Hydrographie Francaise. These gained fame and distinction all over Europe and were republished throughout the eighteenth and even in the nineteenth century.
Bellin also produced smaller format maps such as the 1764 Petit Atlas Maritime, containing 580 finely-detailed charts. He also contributed a number of maps for the 15-volume Histoire Generale des Voyages of Antoine François Prévost.
Bellin set a very high standard of workmanship and accuracy, cementing France's leading role in European cartography and geography during this period. Many of his maps were copied by other mapmakers across the continent.