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Philippe Buache: Carte Physique de la Grande Mer

Map: AUNZ2784
Cartographer: Philippe Buache
Title: Carte Physique de la Grande Mer
Date: 1757
Published: Paris
Width: 17 inches / 44 cm
Height: 13 inches / 34 cm
Map ref: AUNZ2784
Fascinating and important map of the Pacific Ocean, perhaps the earliest attempt to map the ocean's depths. Buache attempts to trace the routes of sea-floor ridges by connecting known islands, reefs, and banks to mountain ranges on land using the most up-to-date scientific information available.

The map's colouration is also important as it indicates which body of water the rivers of each landmass flow into: China Sea (green), Pacific Ocean (pink), or Atlantic Ocean (yellow). Buache was the first to cartographically explore the concept of watersheds, a term which would not come into use until decades later. His maps, though often not recognised as such, should be considered some of the first modern attempts at thematic mapping.

Buache was also a leading proponent of French theoretical cartography, a short-lived movement in the mid-18th century whose adherents used newly-acquired scientific data to propose hypotheses (usually wildly incorrect) about what might exist in the remaining blank spaces on the map. The large "Sea of the West" in the region of Oregon and Washington is a particularly common example from this period, as is Buache's dissected Antarctic continent, featured here in its own polar-projection hemisphere.

As noted on the map, Buache presented his theories to the French Academie des Sciences on September 5th, 1744 to much acclaim. He subsequently published a ground-breaking map of the Antarctic in 1754, a map of the world's watersheds in 1756, and this map of the Pacific Ocean in 1757. A later (c.1780) second state published by Dezauche is also known.

Original hand-colour. [AUNZ2784]