Highly Decorative Map of the Americas
"L'Amerique Meridionale et Septentrionale Dressee sur les Nouvles Decouvtes et Dernieres Relations des Meilleurs Navigateurs...", Desnos, Louis Charles
Subject: Western Hemisphere - America
Period: 1781 (dated)
Publication: Atlas General…
Color: Hand Color
27.4 x 19.1 inches
69.6 x 48.5 cm
This elegant engraving is one of the more distinctive and decorative maps of the 18th century. It is based upon Guillaume Danet’s map of 1731, which in turn was based on Delisle's map of the Americas. What makes this map exceptional is the elaborate and detailed border decorations with portraits of New World explorers running along the top and bottom including Christopher Columbus, Ponce de Leon, Ferdinand Cortez and Ferdinand Magellan along with nine country seals. Illustrations of the signs of the zodiac occupy the left and right border.
Cartographically, a large Sea of the West dominates northwestern North America with the notation Communication Presumee linking it to the Hudson Bay. The north Pacific Ocean is continued in an inset at bottom right, extending from Russia and Japan to Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. Numerous misconceptions abound in the inset, including T. de la Compagnie east of Japan, an oddly shaped Alaska, Lac Valasco north of Alaska, and an additional waterway just north of the Sea of the West connecting the Pacific Ocean to Hudson Bay. The notation above the inset explains that there are contradictory reports regarding the region, and hence the cartographer has indicated certain geography with solid lines and uncertain geography with dashed lines. The Mississippi River is shown at its approximate correct location through present-day Louisiana. In South America, the mythical lakes Parime and Xarayes still appear in the interior. A large text panel provides historical notes on the explorers portrayed in the panels, while numerous other notes across the map provide a fascinating complement to the geography.
References: McGuirk #83.
A bright example on watermarked paper with several old extraneous folds that have been pressed flat. There are professional repairs to a long separation along one of the old folds that extends just above the equator and to a 7" tear in northern Canada and the north Atlantic Ocean. Due to the excellence of the repairs, the map presents itself very well.