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An Important Early Sea Chart of Iceland and the North Atlantic

Finely executed sea chart of Iceland and the contiguous coast of Greenland and neighboring islands, which broadly disseminated the work of the earliest modern surveys of Iceland.

In addition to its well executed treatment of the coast, fjords and sailing details of Iceland, the chart provides topographical information for the island, including glaciers (jokul), rivers, lakes, fjords, settlements and districts (syssel), with Mount Hekla, the island's most notorious Volcano, shown erupting.

Bellin's map provides a fine large format rendition of the Thomas Knoff's 1734 map of Iceland, which had been hidden from view for several decades, until its "re-discovery" by Niels Horrebow.

Horrebow was sent to Iceland by the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences in 1749. In 1752, his Tilforladelige Efterretninger om Island, provided a remarkable and comprehensive look at the island, along with an important map of Iceland, based on the earlier work of Norwegian surveyor Thomas Hans Henrik Knoff.  Knoff was sent to Iceland by the Danish government to continue and complete the work of Magnús Arason, who had been tasked with the first comprehensive and systematic survey or the island.  By 1734, Knoff had completed a set of seven maps and a general map map of the whole country which he finished in the year 1734.  Curiously, a dispute arose between Knoff and the Danish Government over Knoff's dissemination of the cartographic information, and his maps were essentially buried in the Danish archives until Horrebow made use of Knoff's work in 1752.

A fine example, embellished with bold rhumb lines and a striking title cartouche.

Jacques Nicolas Bellin Biography

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.