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1766 Brion Map of the World

Mappe-Monde Dressée pour l'Etude de la Géographie : rélativement aux Auteurs les plus Modernes. - Main View

1766 Brion Map of the World


First Edition of a Delicately Engraved World Map Featuring the Sea of the West



Mappe-Monde Dressée pour l'Etude de la Géographie : rélativement aux Auteurs les plus Modernes.
  1766 (dated)     13.75 x 15.5 in (34.925 x 39.37 cm)     1 : 200000000


An attractive example, with delicately-applied old wash and outline color, of this fascinating map of the world. The map is executed in two hemispheres, each suspended by a titan, one of which is presumably Atlas. Superbly engraved cartocuhes embellish the cusps of the hemispheres. Boasting the state-of-the-art astronomical observations of both Chirikof and Delisle, the map reveals a conjectural Northwest Passage and a massive Sea of the West dominating the northwest part of North America. Australia (Nouvelle Holland on this map) and New Zealand appear in their pre-Cook delineation, with indistinct eastern coastlines. It was engraved using two separate copperplates: one for the map itself, and another for the decorative rococo border. (this allowed for different borders to be employed in later editions of the atlas.)
The Sea of the West
Printed maps showing in the Pacific northwest a massive and utterly fraudulent body of water generally referred to as the Sea of the West appear on many maps, overwhelmingly French, of the second part of the 18th century. The earliest was probably Jean-Baptiste Nolin’s 1742L’Amerique ou le Nouveau Continent; Nolin appears to have copied the relevant cartography from an unpublished manuscript globe by the great mapmaker, Guillaume De l’Isle. The notion did not truly take hold until its vigorous support, starting in 1752, in the maps of J. N. De l’Isle and Philip Buache, who generally presented the monumental bay in conjunction with a viable Northwest Passage. Though De l’Isle and Buache were immediately accused of fraud with regard to this geographical feature, the Sea of the West appeared on many maps – some editions even post-dating Cook.
Publication History
This map appeared first in Brion de la Tour’s Atlas general, civil, ecclesiastique et militaire methodique et elementaire pour l'etude de la geographie et de l'histoire. The book was produced in several editions, of which 1766 was the first.


Louis Brion de la Tour (1743 - 1803) was the Cartographer Royal to the King of France, his official title being Ingenieur-Geographe du Roi, Despite a prolific cartographic career and several important atlases to his name, little is actually known of his life and career. He mat have been born in Bordeaux. His son of the same name was born in 1763 and published until his death in 1832. It is nearly impossible to distinguish the work of the father, from the work of the son, as both used the same imprint and were active in roughly the same period. Much of their work was published in partnership Louis Charles Desnos (fl. 1750 - 1790). Their most notable work is generally regarded to be his 1766 Atlas General. Learn More...

Louis Charles Desnos (1725 - April 18, 1805) was an important 18th century instrument maker, cartographer and globe maker based in Paris, France. Desnos was born in Pont-Sainte-Maxence, Oise, France, the son of a cloth merchant. From April of 1745 he apprenticed at a metal foundry. Desnos married the widow of Nicolas Hardy, sone of the map, globe, and instrument seller Jacques Hardy. Desnos held the coveted position of Royal Globemaker to the King of Denmark, Christian VII, for which he received a stipend of 500 Livres annually. In return Desnos sent the King roughly 200 Livres worth of maps, books and atlases each year. As a publisher, Desnos produced a substantial corpus of work and is often associated with Zannoni and Louis Brion de la Tour (1756-1823). Despite or perhaps because of the sheer quantity of maps Desnos published he acquired a poor reputation among serious cartographic experts, who considered him undiscerning and unscrupulous regarding what he would and would not publish. Desnos consequently had a long history of legal battles with other Parisian cartographers and publishers of the period. It is said that he published everything set before him without regard to accuracy, veracity, or copyright law. Desnos maintained offices on Rue St. Jacques, Paris. Learn More...


Very good. Few minor spots. Lower margin close but complete.


Rumsey 13129.000. OCLC 431580788. McGuirk 128.