This is a rare and attractive 1752 map of the Roman Empire by Robert de Vaugondy. The map shows the extent of the Roman Empire at its height, including the Western Roman Empire and the Eastern Roman Empire. It extends from the Barbary Coast and Portugal east as far as the Caspian Sea and from the Baltic Sea south to the Red Sea. An inset in the lower left quadrant features the Canary Islands. This map offers splendid detail throughout inclusive of mountain ranges, lakes, rivers, and historical sites.
The Roman Empire was established in 27 BC after Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus, the grandnephew and heir of Julius Caesar was awarded the honorific title of Augustus. During the time of the Empire, Roman cities flourished. Trade spread as far as India, Russia, China and Southeast Asia. However, the sheer size of the empire and its success also contributed to its downfall. After the death of Theodosius I, the Empire was divided between his sons Honorius and Arcadius, who inherited the Western Roman Empire and the Eastern Roman Empire respectively. The Empire declined rapidly and finally collapsed in 476 AD, when Romulus Augustulus was deposed by the German Odovacer.
A highly decorative title cartouche by Groux appears in the upper right quadrant. Drawn by Robert de Vaugondy in 1752 and published in the 1757 issue of his Atlas Universal. The Atlas Universal was one of the first atlases based upon actual surveys. Therefore, this map is highly accurate (for the period) and has most contemporary town names correct, though historic names are, in many cases, incorrect or omitted.
Gilles (1688 - 1766) and Didier (c. 1723 - 1786) Robert de Vaugondy were map publishers, engravers, and cartographers active in Paris during the mid-18th century. The father and son team were the inheritors to the important Sanson cartographic firm whose stock supplied much of their initial material. Graduating from Sanson's map's Gilles, and more particularly Didier, began to produce their own substantial corpus of work. Vaugondys were well respected for the detail and accuracy of their maps in which they made excellent use of the considerable resources available in 18th century Paris to produce the most accurate and fantasy-free maps possible. The Vaugondys compiled each map based upon their own superior geographic knowledge, scholarly research, the journals of contemporary explorers and missionaries, and direct astronomical observation - moreover, unlike many cartographers of this period, they commonly took pains to reference their source material. Nevertheless, even in 18th century Paris geographical knowledge was severely limited - especially regarding those unexplored portions of the world, including the poles, the Pacific northwest of America, and the interior of Africa and South America. In these areas the Vaugondys, like their rivals De L'Isle and Buache, must be considered speculative geographers. Speculative geography was a genre of mapmaking that evolved in Europe, particularly Paris, in the middle to late 18th century. Cartographers in this genre would fill in unknown areas on their maps with speculations based upon their vast knowledge of cartography, personal geographical theories, and often dubious primary source material gathered by explorers and navigators. This approach, which attempted to use the known to validate the unknown, naturally engendered many rivalries. Vaugondy's feuds with other cartographers, most specifically Phillipe Buache, resulted in numerous conflicting papers being presented before the Academie des Sciences, of which both were members. The era of speculatively cartography effectively ended with the late 18th century explorations of Captain Cook, Jean Francois de Galaup de La Perouse, and George Vancouver.
Vaugondy, R., Atlas Universel (Paris) 1757.
Very good. Original platemark visible. Minor wear along original centerfold. Minor spotting and offsetting.
Rumsey 3353.004. Pedley, Mary Sponberg Belle et Utile: The Work of the Robert de Vaugondy Family of Mapmakers, 38.