1650 Sanson and Mariette Map of the British Isles

Novissima Descriptio Angliae, Scotiae et Hiberniae.

1650 Sanson and Mariette Map of the British Isles


Early map of the British Isles noting Hadrian's Wall.

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Novissima Descriptio Angliae, Scotiae et Hiberniae.
  1650 (undated)    15.5 x 20 in (39.37 x 50.8 cm)     1 : 3300000


This is a beautiful c. 1650 map of the British Isles by Pierre Mariette and Nicolas Sanson. Covers all of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Includes a small inset of the Orkney Islands in the top right quadrant. Beautifully detailed, it notes important cities, villages, lakes, rivers, islands and other topographic features with mountains and forests rendered in profile. The Wall of Hadrian, fortifications built by the Roman Empire to defend against the unruly tribes of the north, is noted.

In the surrounding waters, ships, galleons and a sea monster are illustrated. A decorative title cartouche adorns the top left quadrant. This map was issued by Pierre Mariette and Nicolas Sanson c. 1650.


Pierre Mariette (1569 - 1657) was a French publisher and engraver active in Paris during the first half of the 19th century. Mariette established himself as successful publisher of art prints, but decided to turn his energy to map with the purchase of Melchior Tavernier map plates in 1644. Tavernier had partnered with Sanson before his death and Mariette followed suite. Around 1644- 1648 Mariette partnered with Nicolas Sanson, a then nascent figure in French cartography, to produce folio maps and atlases. The Sanson-Mariette relationship depended upon Sanson to draw and obtain rights for the maps while Mariette engraved them and paid for the expensive printing process. The two then shared rights to the maps into perpetuity. The finished copper plates were split between two such that neither could publish an atlas without the other's assent. The relationship seemed reasonably amicable until Mariette's death in 1657, when disputes arose between Sanson and Mariette's heirs. A court battle finally returned the most of the plates to Sanson's own heirs in 1674. As a consequence, some printings feature the Mariette imprint, others the Sanson imprint, and still others both imprints.

Nicolas Sanson (1600 - 1667) and his descendants were the most influential French cartographers of the 17th century and laid the groundwork for the Golden Age of French Cartography. Sanson started his career as a historian where, it is said, he turned to cartography as a way to illustrate his historical studies. In the course of his research some of his fine maps came to the attention of King Louis XIII who, admiring the quality of his work, appointed Sanson Geographe Ordinaire du Roi. Sanson's duties in this coveted position included advising the king on matters of geography and compiling the royal cartographic archive. In 1644 he partnered with Pierre Mariette, an established print dealer and engraver, whose business savvy and ready capital enabled Sanson to publish an enormous quantity of maps. Sanson's corpus of some three hundred maps initiated the golden age of French mapmaking and he is considered the 'Father of French Cartography.' His work is distinguished as being the first of the 'Positivist Cartographers,' a primarily French school of cartography that valued scientific observation over historical cartographic conventions. The practice result of the is less embellishment of geographical imagery, as was common in the Dutch Golden Age maps of the 16th century, in favor of conventionalized cartographic representational modes. Sanson is most admired for his construction of the magnificent atlas Cartes Generales de Toutes les Parties du Monde. Sanson's maps of North America, Amerique Septentrionale (1650), Le Nouveau Mexique et La Floride (1656), and La Canada ou Nouvelle France (1656) are exceptionally notable for their important contributions to the cartographic perceptions of the New World. Both maps utilize the discoveries of important French missionaries and are among the first published maps to show the Great Lakes in recognizable form. Sanson was also an active proponent of the insular California theory, wherein it was speculated that California was an island rather than a peninsula. After his death, Sanson's maps were frequently republished, without updates, by his sons, Guillaume (? - 1703) and Adrien Sanson (? - 1708). Even so, Sanson's true cartographic legacy as a 'positivist geographer' was carried on by others, including Alexis-Hubert Jaillot, Guillaume De L'Isle, Gilles Robert de Vaugondy, and Pierre Duval.


Very good. Minor wear along original centerfold. Minor foxing.


OCLC: 165832402.