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Pierre Mortier: Carte Particuliere des Costes du Cap de Bone Esperance

Map: AFR6055
Cartographer: Pierre Mortier
Title: Carte Particuliere des Costes du Cap de Bone Esperance
Date: 1700
Published: Amsterdam
Width: 34 inches / 87 cm
Height: 23 inches / 59 cm
Map ref: AFR6055
Beautiful example of Mortier's chart detailing the southern tip of Africa, from the Cape of Good Hope to Ponta das Pedras with two insets detailing Table Bay and Cape Town.

As with the other charts of the coast of Africa in the “Neptune Francois”, the source cartography is taken from original Portuguese charts. These in turn were copied by the French diplomat N.P. Ablancourt who made them available to Charles Pene and Pierre Mortier. These were then commercially issued in the “Suite the Neptune” , Volume III of the whole work which focused on coasts outside of northwest Europe.

The detail on the coastline is very sparse, with most of the names describing physical features as seen from a ship, such as the mouths of rivers and bays featuring wild animals, “Bahia das Vacas”. The exception to this is the detail on the settlement in Table Bay, Cape Town, both magnified in the two insets. This was the most significant harbour in the southern half of Africa and also the most substantial settlement for Europeans. Fortunately for Mortier, the settling of Cape Town was initiated by the Dutch East India Company (VOC), allowing him access to detailed information. It is interesting that the language used to label the two insets is French, while the rest of the names on the map are in Portuguese.

The “Neptune Francois” was first issued simultaneously in Paris and Amsterdam by Hubert Jaillot and Pierre Mortier respectively in 1693. The project was highly successful and Mortier developed the Atlas by adding two more sections or volumes to it. The first, Vol II was also issued in 1693 and consisted of a set of charts provided by the noted Dutch artist Romeyn de Hooghe. Collectively these are known as the “ Cartes Marines a l’Usage des Armees du Roy de Grande Bretagne” and were originally drawn for William III of Great Britain. De Hooghe was primarily an artist and his charts bear a distinctive pictorial aspect. They have become renowned for their aesthetics, being cited as the most beautiful set of charts ever published. Volume III added in 1700, entitled “Suite de Neptune” concentrated on charts outside of French territory, including maps of the New World, the West Indies, South East Asia and the Indian Ocean among others.

Mortier’s edition was a prestige work. Later scholars have found that his book was the most expensive sea atlas produced in Amsterdam up to that time. On the rare occasions that an example of one of the maps in full original colour can be obtained, it is easily perceived why this work is cited as one of the finest and most spectacular atlases ever produced.

Magnificent original colour. [AFR6055]
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