Catalog Archive
Auction 191, Lot 684

Important Jesuit Map of China

"La Chine Royaume...", Sanson, Nicolas

Subject: China & Korea

Period: 1679 (dated)


Color: Hand Color

21.3 x 16.4 inches
54.1 x 41.7 cm
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This important and attractive French map of China is based on an indigenous Chinese map copied by Jesuit Matteo Ricci, and brought back to Rome in 1590 by his fellow Jesuit, Michele Ruggieri. The map extends to include the northern tip of the Philippines and a curiously curved Korean peninsula. Korea was usually shown as an island in the 17th century, so Sanson's depiction is a cartographic improvement. The Great Wall forms the northern boundary and the map is filled with rivers, mountains and villages. A detailed explanation panel in bottom right is surmounted by Pheme, the personification of fame and renown. Engraved by Jean Somer.

This is a unique example that exhibits erasures in the cartouche where Pierre Mariette's name was erased by Sanson's sons. During their partnership, Sanson and Mariette split the folio plates for Cartes Generales de Toutes les Parties du Monde so that each had half of the plates in their possession, with Mariette adding his name to the plates in his possession. Over time, Sanson began leaving his plates with Mariette for storage, and Mariette included his name on these additional plates. After Sanson's death, his sons took Mariette to court to recover the plates. Many of the plates were returned to the Sansons, who changed the imprints from "chez Mariette" back to "chez l'auteur." (Read our article on the complicated relationship between Sanson and Mariette here.)


Condition: A

A nice impression on a bright sheet with the watermarks of a large coat of arms and "B[heart]C." There is a minor crease adjacent to the centerfold, a few small worm holes in the bottom blank margin, and light toning along the edges of the sheet.

Estimate: $1,800 - $2,100


Closed on 2/8/2023