A fine example of Nicholas Sanson's double-page engraved map of Catalonia published here in a later 1695 state. The map presents an interesting image of Catalonia at the end of the 17th century, showing the region in fine detail.
The map extends from Valencia in the southwestern coast through to Languedoc in France, passing through Barcelona in the center.
The map is divided into seventeen veguerias, which were the feudal subdivisions of the region from the Middle Ages until the reign of King Phillip. Named after the vicars who were placed below counts in the feudal order during the Carolingian period, the exact number of veguerias remained in a state of flux throughout the history of the region.
The map features a beautifully designed cartouche, characteristic of Sanson's aesthetic, in the lower right. The map supplements Sanson's twelve maps of individual regions within Catalonia, as noted in the lower left.
Nicholas Sanson (1600-1667) is considered the father of French cartography in its golden age from the mid-seventeenth century to the mid-eighteenth. Over the course of his career he produced over 300 maps; they are known for their clean style and extensive research. Sanson was largely responsible for beginning the shift of cartographic production and excellence from Amsterdam to Paris in the later-seventeenth century.
Sanson was born in Abbeville in Picardy. He made his first map at age twenty, a wall map of ancient Gaul. Upon moving to Paris, he gained the attention of Cardinal Richelieu, who made an introduction of Sanson to King Louis XIII. This led to Sanson's tutoring of the king and the granting of the title ingenieur-geographe du roi.
His success can be chalked up to his geographic and research skills, but also to his partnership with Pierre Mariette. Early in his career, Sanson worked primarily with the publisher Melchior Tavernier. Mariette purchased Tavernier’s business in 1644. Sanson worked with Mariette until 1657, when the latter died. Mariette’s son, also Pierre, helped to publish the Cartes générales de toutes les parties du monde (1658), Sanson' atlas and the first French world atlas.