Partie Septentrionale du Royaume de Portugal (Northern Part of the Kingdom of Portugal) is an elaborate map of Northern Portugal created by Gilles Robert de Vaugondy in 1751. Its geographical coverage and detailed depiction of the region, alongside a decorative cartouche, present a clear snapshot of the region in the mid-18th century.
At the time of its creation, Portugal, a leading maritime power in the Age of Exploration, was establishing its identity as a modern nation-state. The map offers a deep understanding of this critical juncture, focusing on the northern part of the country which was, and remains, integral to Portugal's identity and economy. It portrays an area burgeoning with towns, each meticulously documented, reflecting the demographic and urban development patterns of the era.
Robert de Vaugondy, known as the "Geographe ordinaire du Roy," was part of a dynastic lineage of cartographers and publishers. His works are recognized for their combination of aesthetic appeal and accuracy. This large-format map is an exemplar of his skill, the detailed topographical features making it an invaluable resource for those studying the history and geography of 18th-century Portugal.
Moreover, the map's decorative cartouche, characteristic of Robert de Vaugondy's work, adds an artistic dimension, combining aesthetic pleasure with the practical function of cartography. The fusion of cartographic precision, aesthetic beauty, and historical value makes this map an essential piece for those interested in 18th-century European geography.
Gilles Robert de Vaugondy (1688-1766) and Didier Robert de Vaugondy (1723-1786) were influential figures in the realm of 18th-century French cartography. Originating from Paris, their contributions to mapmaking were significant during an era of expansive geographical exploration.
Gilles Robert de Vaugondy entered the world of cartography not through family tradition but through personal interest and the budding opportunities of his time. Born in 1688, he worked during a time when Paris was becoming a central hub for cartographic activities. Gilles often incorporated the latest findings from explorers into his maps, making them sought-after for their contemporary relevance. His connections weren't limited to his immediate circle; he frequently interacted with other key mapmakers, staying updated on the latest techniques and findings.
His son, Didier, was born in 1723 and had the advantage of growing up surrounded by maps and globes. While his father was renowned for maps, Didier made a name for himself in the field of globemaking. His globes were some of the most precise and detailed in France, gaining recognition even among the royalty. In addition to his work in cartography and globemaking, Didier had a keen interest in education, especially after the expulsion of the Jesuits from France. He stepped in to produce geographical educational materials, fulfilling a newfound need.
The maps and globes produced by the Vaugondys remain an enduring testament to the peak of French cartography during the Enlightenment. Their works, characterized by precision and the inclusion of contemporary findings, helped to shape our understanding of the world during a transformative period in European history.