Transatlantic Navigation in the 18th Century
Finely executed French sea chart of the south part of the Atlantic Ocean, covered in rhumb lines.
Intended for general Transatlantic navigation, the chart includes an extensive table of Longitudes and Latitudes of the major ports and islands on the coast of France, Spain, Portugal, Africa, Madeira, the Canary Islands, Azores, Cap Verd Islands, Antilles, Santa Domingo, Bermuda, North America , Newfoundland and the various strategic fishing islands in the North Atlantic.
Issued at the outset of the American Revolution, it would have been used by French Naval Officers and Naval Merchant vessels plying the Atlantic Ocean during the war years.
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.