Catalog Archive
Auction 185, Lot 703

Rare Chart of Tripoli Depicting Venetian Assault

"Veduta della Citta e Porto di Tripoli di Barbaria Disegnata in Pianta, e Prospettiva da Ignazio Avesani...", Anon.

Subject: Tripoli, Libya

Period: 1766 (circa)


Color: Black & White

25 x 16.7 inches
63.5 x 42.4 cm
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This very rare chart depicts the city and fortifications of Tripoli as they were under attack from a fleet of Venetian ships led by Ignazio Avesani in 1766. There is a key set in an elaborately decorative cartouche at left that identifies the various ships in the fleet and the fortifications. Soundings fill the water, and the coast features striking topographical detail. A compass rose orients north to the bottom of the sheet. An inset view at bottom presents Tripoli from the vantage of Avesani's fleet. The map is dedicated to Girolamo Zulian, a Venetian nobleman and patron of the arts who would later serve as a Senatore Amplissimo and ambassador to Rome.

From the time of the Crusades to the early nineteenth century, Tripoli and the rest of the Barbary Coast was a stronghold for pirates or corsairs who preyed on shipping in the western Mediterranean. After the Republic of Venice's demoralizing loss in the Seventh Ottoman-Venetian War (1714-18), the Venetians remained locked in a state of conflict with the pirates of the Barbary Coast. Avesani's failed expedition was one of the the Republic's last attempts to topple Ottoman Tripolitania. This is the only example of the map we have found on the market.


Condition: B+

A crisp impression on a sheet with a watermark of three crescent moons. There are some edge tears, including one entering the map image at right that has been closed on verso with archival materials. Light scattered foxing is almost entirely confined to the margins.

Estimate: $1,000 - $1,400

Sold for: $550

Closed on 11/17/2021