Fine sea chart of the Southwest Coast of Africa, published by Nicolas Bellin.
The map extends from the mouth of the Sierra Leone River in the South to the southern tip of the Canary Islands, centered in the Cape Verde Islands and the Senegal River.
This chart was produced by Jacques-Nicolas Bellin (1703-1772), France's preeminent maritime cartographer and the Premier Ingénieur of the Depot de la Marine (the French Hydrographical Office), as well as the Official Hydrographer of King Louis XV. The chart was part of Bellin's greatest work, the monumental sea atlas, Hydrographie française (1753).
The present example is an especially fine example with the additional rhumb lines not present on most examples of the map, further evidence of the intended use of the chart for navigation at sea.
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.