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Pierre Mortier: Carte Generale des L'Afrique levee par ordre expres des Roys de Portugal

Map: AFR6056
Cartographer: Pierre Mortier
Title: Carte Generale des L'Afrique levee par ordre expres des Roys de Portugal
Date: 1700
Published: Amsterdam
Width: 34 inches / 87 cm
Height: 24 inches / 61 cm
Map ref: AFR6056
Spectacular map of the continent of Africa included in the “Suite de Neptune”, the most elaborate and expensive atlas of sea charts published to date.

Geographically, the shape of the map bears a resemblance to Hubert Jaillot’s map of 1674, which in turn was sourced from Nicholas Sanson’s map. The title suggests that the coastal detail was sourced the archives of the King of Portugal. The “Suite de Neptune” included a series of maps detailing the African coast which were sourced from manuscripts provided by the French diplomat N.P. Ablancourt who gained access to these archives. Many of these coastal details were added to this earlier map of Africa, accounting for the peculiar mixture of French and Portuguese nomenclature. The fanciful interior detail, including the two mythical interior lakes thought to be the sources of the great African rivers, was very much Jaillot’s speculation based on existing maps of the continent.

Hydrographically, the map extends past the Arabian Peninsula as far east as the Indian sub-continent and as far west as Brazil, showing the full extent of European activities in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. A final geographical peculiarity is the choice of excluding the southern coast of Anatolia in the Mediterranean, cutting off the northern edge of the map detail at Alexandretta on the Levant.

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. [AFR6056] (BC)
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