1787 Robert de Vaugondy Pair of Separate-Issue Celestial Maps

Hémisphère Céleste Arctique ou Septentrional calculé et construit pour l’année 1763 ... / Hémisphère Céleste Antarctique ou Austral calculé et construit pour l’année 1763 ... - Main View

1787 Robert de Vaugondy Pair of Separate-Issue Celestial Maps


Separately-issued Celestial Charts.


Hémisphère Céleste Arctique ou Septentrional calculé et construit pour l’année 1763 ... / Hémisphère Céleste Antarctique ou Austral calculé et construit pour l’année 1763 ...
  1787 (undated)     27.5 x 25.5 in (69.85 x 64.77 cm)


This is a stunning c. 1787 pair of separately issued celestial maps by Didier Robert de Vaugondy and Charles-François Delamarche. The maps employ a two-plate engraving system to highlight constellations in red - a unique feature not replicated elsewhere in Robert de Vaugondy's corpus.
A Closer Look
Both maps are centered over their respective geological poles; however, celestial data is centered over their ecliptic poles, the two points where the ecliptic axis, the imaginary line perpendicular to the ecliptic, intersects the celestial sphere. From these points, concentric rings emerge. Constellations are highlighted in red. Stars are illustrated using the 1603 Johann Bayer model, wherein relative brightness is defined using a Greek lettering system. The map also includes nebulas, several of which were updated and added by Delamarche for this edition of the charts.
Publication History and Census
The charts are calculated for 1763, and were initially published by Robert de Vaugondy in 1774. This edition, bearing the Delamarche imprint in the lower left, suggests they must have been printed after 1786, when Delamarche acquired and updated Vaugondy's cartographic stock. Both are the 3rd states, updated by Delamarche with new constellations and other astronomical features. Scarce on the market. Pedley notes examples at the BnF and the British Library. The charts appear on the market occasionally, usually separately, so a matched set is a rare discovery.


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 maps, Gilles, and more particularly Didier, began to produce their own substantial corpus. Vaugondys were well-respected for the detail and accuracy of their maps, for which they capitalized on the resources of 18th-century Paris to compile the most accurate and fantasy-free maps possible. The Vaugondys compiled each map based on their own geographic knowledge, scholarly research, journals of contemporary explorers and missionaries, and direct astronomical observation - moreover, unlike many cartographers of this period, they took pains to reference their sources. Nevertheless, even in 18th-century Paris, geographical knowledge was limited - especially regarding those unexplored portions of the world, including the poles, the Pacific Northwest of America, and the interiors of Africa, Australia, and South America. In these areas, the Vaugondys, like their rivals De L'Isle and Buache, must be considered speculative or positivist 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 lands with theories based on their knowledge of cartography, personal geographical theories, and often dubious primary source material gathered by explorers. This approach, which attempted to use the known to validate the unknown, naturally engendered rivalries. Vaugondy's feuds with other cartographers, most specifically Phillipe Buache, resulted in numerous conflicting papers presented before the Academie des Sciences, of which both were members. The era of speculative 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 defrauded Vaugondy's window Marie Louise Rosalie Dangy of her rightful inheritance and may even have killed her. More by this mapmaker...

Charles-François Delamarche (August 1740 - October 31, 1817) founded the important and prolific Paris based Maison Delamarche map publishing firm in the late 18th century. A lawyer by trade, Delamarche entered the map business with the 1787 acquisition from Jean-Baptiste Fortin of Robert de Vaugondy's map plates and copyrights. Delamarche appears to have been of dubious moral character. In 1795 the widow of Didier Robert de Vaugondy, Marie Louise Rosalie Dangy, petitioned a public committee for 1500 livres, which should have been awarded to her deceased husband. However, Delamarche, proclaiming himself Vaugondy's heir, filed a simultaneous petition and walked away with the funds, most of which he was instructed to distribute to Robert de Vaugondy's widow and children. Just a few months later, however, Delamarche proclaimed Marie Dangy deceased and it is highly unlikely that any funds found their way to Robert de Vaugondy's impoverished daughters. Nonetheless, where Robert de Vaugondy could barely make ends meet as a geographer, Delamarche prospered as a map publisher, acquiring most of the work of earlier generation cartographers Lattre, Bonne, Desnos, and Janvier, thus expanding significantly upon the Robert de Vaugondy stock. Charles Delamarche eventually passed control of the firm to his son Felix Delamarche (c. 1750 - c. 1850) and geographer Charles Dien (1809 - 1870). It was later passed on to Alexandre Delamarche, who revised and reissued several Delamarche publications in the mid-19th century. The firm continued to publish maps and globes until the middle part of the 19th century. Learn More...


Good. Some discoloration along right side of Southern Hemisphere sheet. Minor centerfold stabilization on verso.


BnF: FRBNF40673740, FRBNF40673739. Pedley, Mary Sponberg, Bel et Utile: The Work of the Robert de Vaugondy Family of Mapmakers, #1, 2.