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Pierre Mortier: Mer de Sud ou Pacifique

Map: AMER2352
Cartographer: Pierre Mortier
Title: Mer de Sud ou Pacifique
Date: 1708
Published: Amsterdam
Width: 29 inches / 74 cm
Height: 23 inches / 59 cm
Map ref: AMER2352
Lovely example of Mortier's two sheet map of the Pacific Ocean initially published in 1700.

Geographically the map shows the Pacific Ocean, with a focus on the west coasts of the Americas including the island of California on the right and the Dutch discoveries in the South Seas on the left, together with Japan and the far eastern shores of Asia. Geographically, the map is an augmentation of the Pacific as it was drawn on Mortier’s map of the world first issued in 1693. Following geographical orthodoxy of the time, the island of New Guinea is shown as connected to the Dutch discoveries on the north coast of Australia, and Tasman’s discoveries on Tasmania and New Zealand are marked as unconnected portions of coastline.

The shape of Japan does not seem to have been updated as per the information present in Martini’s survey from the latest Jesuit sources and the fantasy mapping inspired by the voyages of Maarten de Vries is acknowledged by the presence of the Straits named after him, but not as flamboyantly developed as some contemporary and later maps.

The source for the information of the west coasts of the Americas is possibly from Portuguese sources as it is stated that the atlas draws most of its non-European information from the archives of the Portuguese Crown, collected from the French diplomat N.P. D’Ablancourt. However, most of the maps of Africa in the atlas credit the Portuguese King in the title and this map does not. Certainly, the distinctive shape of the northern coast of the island of California is based on the 1635 map by Luke Fox, an English explorer looking for the Northwest Passage.

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 hand colour. [AMER2352] (BC) [Burden 770]
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