Interesting original 18th-century engraving showing the cross-section of the decks of two sailing ships.
The upper ship is a galley, a lower, flatter ship that could be propelled by oars and was favored by certain navies in near-coastal warfare. The lower image is that of an enormous ship of the line, more favored in open waters at the time.
Galleys had previously seen their hey-day on the Mediterranean, having predominated since Roman times until the 16th century.. They were replaced by sailing vessels which could carry larger complements of guns in open waters.
The engraving appeared in Diderot's monumental Encyclopedie. The engraving is based on an earlier depiction by Nicholas Bellin, the primary cartographer for the French Navy.
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.