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1740 Albrizzi Map of Canada and the Great Lakes

Carta Geografica Del Canada Nell' America Settentrionale. - Main View

1740 Albrizzi Map of Canada and the Great Lakes


Scarce map of Canada and the Great Lakes on the Eve of the French and Indian War.


Carta Geografica Del Canada Nell' America Settentrionale.
  1740 (undated)     13.5 x 17.5 in (34.29 x 44.45 cm)     1 : 10000000


An attractive 1740 map of Canada and the Great lakes by Giambattista Albrizzi. This map offers an exceptional overview of French America on the eve of the French and Indian War. Based upon a 1708 revision of a 1703 map by Guillaume Delisle, this map covers from Baffin Bay to the latitudes of St. Louis (St. Luigi) and the Chesapeake Bay and from the lands of the Moozemblek to Newfoundland, including all five of the Great Lakes.

The five Great Lakes are rendered on the model laid down by Vincenzo Coronelli in 1694. Coronelli's mapping of the Great Lakes was remarkable and would remain the finest mapping of the region until Bellin's in some ways inferior 1744 remapping.

One of this map's most striking feature is doubtless its presentation of the supposed discoveries of the Baron Louis Armand de Lahonton (1666-1715), mapped here on the Delisle model as a series of lakes and rivers extending west of the Mississippi and occupying those unexplored territories extending north of New Mexico. Albrizzi recognizes that much of what he depicted in this area was speculative, textually acknowledging this cartography as presumptive 'unless the Baron Lahontan has invented these things, which is hard to resolve he being the only person that has travel'd into these vast countries.' Lahonton himself was a French military officer commanding the fort of St. Joseph, near modern day Port Huron, Michigan. Abandoning his post to live and travel with local Chippewa tribes, Lahonton claims to have explored much of the Upper Mississippi Valley and even discovered a heretofore unknown river, which he dubbed the Longue River. This river he claims to have followed a good distance from its convergence with the Mississippi. Beyond the point where he himself traveled, Lahonton wrote of further lands along the river described by his American Indian guides. These include a great saline lake or sea at the base of a mountain range. This range, he reported, could be easily crossed, from which further rivers would lead to the mysterious lands of the Mozeemleck, and presumably the Pacific. Lahonton's work has been both dismissed as fancy and defended speculation by various scholars. Could Lahonton have been describing indigenous reports of the Great Salt Lake? Could this be a description of the Missouri and Columbia Rivers? What river was he actually on? Perhaps we will never know. What we do know is that on his return to Europe, Lahonton published an enormously popular book describing his travels. Lahonton's book inspired many important cartographers of his day, Senex, Moll, Delisle, Popple, Sanson, and Chatelain to name just a few, to include on their maps both the Longue River and the saline sea beyond. The concept of an inland river passage to the Pacific fired the imagination of the French and English, who were aggressively searching for just such a route. Unlike the Spanish, with easy access to the Pacific through the narrow isthmus of Mexico and the port of Acapulco, the French and English had no easy route by which to offer their furs and other commodities to the affluent markets of Asia. A passage such as Lahonton suggested was just what was needed and wishful thinking more than any factual exploration fuelled the inclusion of Lahonton's speculations on so many maps.

Albrizzi's incorporation of a large decorative cartouche in the upper left quadrant is of special note. The graphic, which includes some sort of bizarre merbeast or lake monster (Champ anyone?) alongside stylized American Indians, was most likely drawn by the well-known Italian artist Giovanni Battista Piazetta (c. 1682 - 1754). Piazetta's graphic elements are in this case rather innovative in that they attempt to include both allegorical (monster) and descriptive elements. The transition to more descriptive cartouche work thus illustrated marks important advancement in 18th century Italian school cartographic publishing and set the stage for the later work of Antonio Zatta, among others.

This map was drawn and prepared for issued in G. Albrizzi's 1740 Atlante Novissimo che Contiene Tutte le Parti del Mondo. The work is essentially a decorative Italian reissue of Isaak Tirion's 1730 reissue of G. Delisle's c. 1700 atlas.


Giambattista Albrizzi (1698 - 1777), a.k.a. Giovanni Battista Albrizzi, was an Italian publisher and journalist active in Venice during the mid-18th century. Albrizzi was the scion of a well-established Venetian publishing dynasty and followed in the footsteps of his father, Girolamo Albrizzi, who founded the family printing business and is known for publishing the work the great Venetian cartography Vincenzo Coronelli. Giambattista Albrizzi is generally considered to be the most prominent 18th century Venetian publisher. Today he is best known for his friendship and collaboration with Giovanni Battista Piazzeta (1683 - 1754), a well know Venetian artist and engraver, whose drawings and engravings appear in many of Albrizzi's publications, including his maps. Giambattista Albrizzi's cartographic work, while not particularly innovative in terms of content, often featured elaborate decorative elements designed by Piazzeta. Through the integration of such decorative elements, Albrizzi hopped to revive the reputation of Venetian publishing, which since the late 17th century, had fallen in regard since the days of Girolamo. His work helped lay the foundations for Italian school decorative cartography in the late 18th and early 19th century, including the work of Antonio Zatta, among others. In addition to Albrizzi's work as a map and book publisher, he also issued a weekly journal, Novelle della Repubblica delle Lettere, a kind of early newspaper that played an important role in Venetian business and intellectual life. More by this mapmaker...

The De L'Isle family (fl. c. 1700 - c. 1760) (also written Delisle) were, in composite, a mapmaking tour de force who redefined early 18th century European cartography. Claude De L'Isle (1644 -1720), the family patriarch, was Paris based a historian and geographer under Nicholas Sanson. De L'Isle and his sons were proponents of the school of "positive geography" and were definitive figures, defining the heights of the Golden Age of French Cartography. Of his twelve sons, four, Guillaume (1675 - 1726), Simon Claude (1675 - 1726), Joseph Nicholas (1688 - 1768) and Louis (1720 - 1745), made a significant contributions to cartography. Without a doubt Guillaume was the most remarkable member of the family. It is said that Guillaume's skill as a cartographer was so prodigious that he drew his first map at just nine years of age. He was tutored by J. D. Cassini in astronomy, science, mathematics and cartography. By applying these diverse disciplines to the vast stores of information provided by 18th century navigators, Guillaume created the technique that came to be known as "scientific cartography", essentially an extension of Sanson's "positive geography". This revolutionary approach transformed the field of cartography and created a more accurate picture of the world. Among Guillaume's many firsts are the first naming of Texas, the first correct map of the Mississippi, the final rejection of the insular California fallacy, and the first identification of the correct longitudes of America. Stylistically De L'Isle also initiated important changes to the medium, eschewing the flamboyant Dutch style of the previous century in favor of a highly detailed yet still decorative approach that yielded map both beautiful and informative. Guillaume was elected to the French Academie Royale des Sciences at 27. Later, in 1718, he was also appointed "Premier Geographe du Roi", an office created especially for him. De L'Isle personally financed the publication of most of his maps, hoping to make heavy royalties on their sales. Unfortunately he met an untimely death in 1728, leaving considerable debt and an impoverished child and widow. De L'Isle's publishing firm was taken over by his assistant, Phillipe Buache who became, posthumously, his son in law. The other De L'Isle brothers, Joseph Nicholas and Louis De L'Isle, were employed in the Service of Peter the Great of Russia as astronomers and surveyors. They are responsible for cataloguing and compiling the data obtained from Russian expeditions in the Pacific and along the northwest coast of America, including the seminal explorations of Vitus Bering and Aleksei Chirikov. The De L'Isles, like their rivals the Vaugondys , 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. 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. Learn More...


Albrizzi, G. B., Atlante Novissimo che Contiene Tutte le Parti del Mondo, (Venice: Albrizzi) 1740.    


Very good. Original Platemark visible. Wide clean margins. Blank on verso.


Kershaw, K. A., Early Printed Maps of Canada, Vol. II, entry 342, p.18. Hall, G. K., Catalogue of the National Map Collection, Public Archives of Canada, H12/900-[1750], Vol. 10, p.338.