1757 Vaugondy Map of South America

Amerique Meridionale, dressee, sur les Mémoires les plus récents et assujétie aux observations astronomique Par le Sr. Robert de Vaugondy fils de Mr. Robert Géographe ordin. du Roy. Avec Privilege. 1750. - Main View

1757 Vaugondy Map of South America


An Elegant Classic of French Cartographic Art.


Amerique Meridionale, dressee, sur les Mémoires les plus récents et assujétie aux observations astronomique Par le Sr. Robert de Vaugondy fils de Mr. Robert Géographe ordin. du Roy. Avec Privilege. 1750.
  1750 (dated)     19 x 23.25 in (48.26 x 59.055 cm)     1 : 17300000


This is a beautiful 1757 map of South America by Gilles Robert de Vaugondy. It covers the continent from Panama to Tierra del Fuego and Cape Horn. Excellent detail appears throughout, depicting mountains, rivers, forests, swamps, cities, and a host of additional topographic features.
Differences from the First State
This second state is most obviously changed from the first state in its cartouche, but it also includes place names not present on the earlier state. Some appear to be a matter of oversight, as they appear on earlier maps: St. George dos Ilhos, for example, and the Isla de Martim Vaz which is shown on the first state of the map but not named, as it is here. C. des 3 Pointes appears here near Trinidad, where it is lacking on the first state. The Isla de Fernand de Noronha appears here and is named, whereas the first state of the map does not include the island at all. In the Pacific Ocean, the equatorial archipelago unnamed on the first state of the map is here collectively named Isles Galapes, although the specific islands are not.
L. de los Xarayes
Vaugondy identifies the mythical Laguna de Xarayes, supposed gateway to paradise or El Dorado, as the northern terminus of the Paraguay River. The Xarayes, a corruption of 'Xaraies' meaning 'Masters of the River', were an indigenous people occupying what are today parts of Brazil's Matte Grosso and the Pantanal. When Spanish and Portuguese explorers first navigated up the Paraguay River, as always in search of El Dorado, they encountered the vast Pantanal flood plain at the height of its annual inundation. Understandably misinterpreting the flood plain as a gigantic inland sea, they named it after the local inhabitants, the Xaraies. The Laguna de los Xarayes almost immediately began to appear on early maps of the region and, at the same time, almost immediately took on a legendary aspect. Later missionaries and chroniclers, particularly Díaz de Guzmán, imagined an island in this lake and curiously identified it as an 'Island of Paradise'.
Easter Island?
To the west of Chile, in the South Pacific Ocean, Vaugondy identifies the 'Land discovered by Davis', roughly where Easter Island is today. Terre de Davis or Davis' Land was supposedly discovered in 1688 by an English navigator of the same name. Many historians argue whether or not Davis Land was actually Easter Island, but it does seem likely.
A Beautifully Crafted Cartouche
The cartouche of the first state of this map, as classified by Pedley, appears to have been unfinished. The features at the top of the cartouche - the parrot, the Indian princess, the cocoa pod, and the chili pepper - were all present. The lower half of the cartouche's frame was much more Spartan, with a single and not-very-impressive alligator at the lower left of the privilege and date. The cartouche engraver's imprint - 'Gobin fecit' - lurks apologetically below. The present example is the second state of the map, and here the cartouche is artistically far superior. The upper elements are - from the Indian's ankle on up - unchanged, but below that the frame of the cartouche is much more substantial. A sculpted base, overgrown with flowers and vines, with a peck of peppers piled at the lower left and a more accomplished alligator arranged attractively at the bottom center of the cartouche. Gobin's imprint does not appear, but no other has been added to replace it.
Publication History and Census
This map was drawn by Robert de Vaugondy and first published in 1750. This example, though containing the same date, was published in the 1757 issue of Vaugondy's Atlas Universel. Some thirteen examples of various states of the map are separately catalogued in OCLC.


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. After Didier died, his maps were acquired by Jean-Baptiste Fortin who in 1787 sold them to Charles-François Delamarche (1740 - 1817). While Delamarche prospered from the Vaugondy maps, he also defrauded Vaugondy's window Marie Louise Rosalie Dangy of her inheritance and may even have killed her. Learn More...

(?) Gobin (fl. 1743 - 1753) was a French engraver, specializing in decorative cartouches. His output appears to have overwhelmingly in the service of the maps of Robert de Vaugondy. Pedley speculates that Gobin dies in 1753, as no work appears with his signature after that date. Learn More...


Robert de Vaugondy, G., Atlas Universel, (Paris) 1757.    


Excellent. Very minor waterstain in upper margin, just faintly entering image. Original outline color. Generous margins and no mends.


OCLC 431561937. Rumsey 3353.102. Pedley, Mary Sponberg Belle et Utile: The Work of the Robert de Vaugondy Family of Mapmakers, 487, state 2.