Catalog Archive
Auction 185, Lot 666

Rare Map of China Based on Blaeu

"Imperii Sinarum Nova Descriptio", Thevenot, Melchisedech

Subject: China, Korea & Japan

Period: 1672 (circa)

Publication: Relations de Divers Voyages Curieux

Color: Hand Color

24.9 x 18 inches
63.2 x 45.7 cm
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This rare map of the Chinese Empire is based on the Blaeu-Martini map of 1655 with a few key updates. Blaeu's map was a compilation of the work of Jesuit Father Martino Martini, who traveled through the region between 1643 and 1650. This was a period of great internal unrest and his was a perilous journey. He was able to travel inland to the Great Wall and for the first time determined with any scientific accuracy the astronomical position of many cities and topographical features. After establishing a mission in Zhejiang province he returned to Rome via Amsterdam, where he met Joan Blaeu. Blaeu then prepared a group of eight maps covering China in great detail. Blaeu's map was the first European map to present Korea as a peninsula, and the depiction of Japan follows the Blancus/Moreira type. Blaeu also included the Chiamay Lacus (here Kia L.), a mythical lake with fiver rivers flowing south.

Although Thevenot copied the majority of the outline of the map from Blaeu, he added numerous place names throughout. In addition, his presentation of Hokkaido (Ieso) is quite different. Although Blaeu depicted Hokkaido as an island, Thevenot proposes a much different shape that is not fully delineated and therefore gives uncertainty as to whether it is an island or connected to the mainland. Engraved by A. Peyrounin. "III.9" has been added to the plate at bottom left. Blank verso.


Condition: B

A sharp impression, issued folding on a bright sheet with a "L [heart] L" watermark and very narrow margins. Professionally flattened and backed in thin tissue to repair a number of separations along a long vertical, extraneous crease, several 2" edge tears, a small hole below Kia L., and a small chip at top left with the image skillfully replaced in facsimile. Due to the professional repairs, the map presents itself very well.

Estimate: $2,000 - $2,400

Sold for: $1,500

Closed on 11/17/2021