This vibrant full-color town plan of Aberdeen stands as an excellent exemplar of the work of John Tallis, one of the last great decorative map makers. Embellished with several vignettes featuring significant landmarks, including Castle Street, Old Don Bridge, North Church King Street, and a sailing ship, it adds a splendid view of the city as seen from across the river.
The map hails from the mid-19th century, a time when cartography was undergoing substantial changes. Despite the general shift towards more utilitarian map designs during this period, Tallis held steadfastly to the tradition of ornamented cartography. His dedication to the inclusion of detailed vignettes—small illustrations inset into the map—lends his work its distinctive charm and serves to transport the viewer into the landscape depicted.
The Aberdeen town plan was engraved for R. Montgomery Martin's Illustrated Atlas, adding to its historical significance. Martin, a respected historian and author of the 19th century, is well known for his works on the British Empire. The inclusion of Tallis's map in Martin's atlas reflects the high standard of both its aesthetic qualities and geographical accuracy.
John Tallis (1817-1876) was a British map publisher. Born in the Midlands, Tallis came to London in the 1840s. Tallis began his London career with a series of remarkable London street views. He began a partnership with a Frederick Tallis, possibly his brother, but their collaboration ended in 1849. For the Great Exhibition of 1851, Tallis published the Illustrated World Atlas, one of the last series of decorative world maps ever produced. The maps were engraved by John Rapkin, a skilled artisan. The maps were later reissued by the London Printing & Publishing Company, who left the Tallis imprint intact, thus ensuring his enduring fame. In 1858, he began publication of the popular Illustrated News of the World and National Portrait Gallery of Eminent Personages, selling it in 1861 (it ceased publication in 1863).