Carte Tres Curieuse de la Mer du Sud, Contenant Des Remarquwa Nouvelles et Tres Utiles Non Seulement Sur Les Ports et Iloes de Cette Mer…
By: Henri Abraham Chatelain
Date: 1719 (Published) Amsterdam
Original Size: 32.5 x 56 inches (83 cm x 142 cm)
This is a fine reproduction of a truly magnificent map that is arguably the most sought after of all Henri Abraham Chatelain’s works. Chatelain's "very curious map" is one of the most spectacular examples of the marriage between cartography and graphic art. While the focus of the map is the Americas, it extends to the entire Pacific including the East Indies and Japan, and all the Atlantic including large areas of western Europe and Africa. The map is based on De Fer’s map of 1713 and was published in Chatelain’s monumental work, Atlas Historique.
One’s eye is immediately drawn to the fantastic mythical island of California, which ‘existed’ until relatively recent times. A notation alludes to the controversy provoked by Father Kino's map of the peninsular form. Thus, this was one of the first European maps to question the myth of the island of California. Aside from this, much of the map is remarkably accurate in detail, and with his usual thoroughness and eye for detail, his desire to provide information to the world about newly charted territories, Chatelain creates lifelike images of many of the indigenous peoples and their industries, all of which he includes in this wonderful map.
Some examples in vignettes at the top of the map include a study of beavers and local Indian tribes interacting with them (hunting), and a picturesque view of Niagara Falls in which many beavers also appear. In the top center of the map are nine medallions featuring explorers notable for their voyages to the New World, including Columbus, Vespucci, Magellan, Le Maire, Drake and Dampier. The tracks of these explorers are traced throughout the oceans along with marvelous depictions of their ships.
The upper right quadrant features indigenous peoples of Eastern Canada actively engaged in fishing and processing/drying of fish in a splendidly organized and productive fashion. Near the industrial scene, in the upper right hand corner, Chatelain features an enlarged section of the Straits of Gibralter, with parts of both Spain and northern Africa included.
Below this vignette we find the Cape of Good Hope, also enlarged and showing considerable detail. Between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, Chatelain confines himself primarily though not exclusively to the delineation of the continents and bodies of water which he pictures. In the confines of the continents themselves, we find that the Great Lakes are well defined in North America, which is quite devoid of geographic detail with the exception of major rivers and a few place names, including a few missions and forts. With great skill Chatelain hides the unknown northern regions of the continent, and the northeastern US and Quebec are elongated. The South Pacific features newly discovered lands such as the Solomon Islands shown to be south of California, and a number of other partially delineated islands labeled ‘seen but unknown’. Also included are incomplete coastlines of Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania.
The vignettes in rococo borders which surround the map provide a vivid panorama of the New World, and those embellishing the lower portion of the map include grand scenes of rituals of the Aztecs and Incas, including human sacrifice in graphic detail. A confrontation between mounted European troops and a large group of indigenous peoples is presented. Countless intriguing scenes are depicted to increase the viewer’s understanding and knowledge of the New World.
Galleons and frigates sail the high seas. Other scenes depict the traditions of indigenous peoples, including a fascinating scene of a beach covered by sea turtles, another of llamas being used as pack animals. Depiction of the southern hemisphere also includes inset maps and town plans including the Mississippi Delta, the Isthmus of Panama, the Rio de la Plata, Acapulco Bay, Mexico City, Havana, and Veracruz. Architectural edifices and religious activities undertaken by local populations are depicted as are mining and sugar operations. On four sheets joined. One of the most spectacular maps of the Americas ever published.
Inventory No. 81008