Detailed map of the Bay of Fort-Liberte Santa Domingo, published in Nicholas Bellin's Petit Atlas Maritime.
The chart is oriented with east at the top.
Bellin was the first Ingenieur Hydrographe de la Marine, and also Official Hydrographer to the French King.
The area around Fort-Liberté was originally settled Spanish colonists who founded the city Bayaja in 1578, but abandoned it in 1605. The site was reoccupied by the French in 1732 as Fort-Dauphin; it was captured by Spanish forces in 1794, restored to the French in 1801 and then surrendered to the British in September 1803, shortly before the declaration of independence.
The city has undergone a succession of name changes: Bayaja (1578), Fort-Dauphin (1732), Fort St. Joseph (1804), Fort-Royal (1811) and finally Fort-Liberté (1820).
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.