A finely engraved allegorical frontispiece including the English royal coat of arms by the eminent cartographer Vincenzo Maria Coronelli.
This highly attractive composition features the Royal Arms of England, including a garter featuring the motto: 'Honi Soit Mal Qui Pense' (Shame to him who thinks evil of). Below is the allegorical figure of Hercules bearing a tablet with another English royal motto: 'Dieu et Mon Droit' (God and my right). To the right is the personification of the English Empire, 'Britannia', bearing the scepter and orb of royal authority. To the right is St. George, the patron saint of England, slaying a Dragon. Likewise, Britannia and Hercules are shown to be vanquishing Britain's enemies below. The rhetoric is one of unadulterated Anglo power during a period when England was engaged in a long series of wars with Louis XIV's France.
This engraving served as one of several frontispieces in Coronelli's 1689 Atlante Veneto, meant to accompany Blaeu's Atlas Maior.
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.