Chili, Paraguay, Breesil, Amazones et Perou.
1786 (undated) 14.5 x 20.5 in (36.83 x 52.07 cm)
1 : 26143764
This is an attractive 1786 example of the Brion de la Tour map of South America. It extends from Guyana south to Tierra del Fuego and Cape Horn. The map renders the entire region in extraordinary detail offering both topographical and political information.
Despite several hundred years of exploration, at the end of the 18th century, much of the interior of South America, aside from the Andean coastal regions, remained largely unknown.
Perhaps the most interesting feature is the mapping of Lake Parima, near Guyana. Lake Parima was first identified by Sir Walter Raleigh in the 16th century - though he admittedly never saw the lake himself. Raleigh associated the lake with indigenous legends of Manoa and the supposed site of El Dorado. Many early maps actually show 'el Dorado' on the shores of Lake Parima, though this map curiously does not. However, the rendition of Lake Parima is vastly smaller than most previous examples from the late 18th century - even those by other English cartographers such as Laurie and Whittle – suggesting a significant advance in regional cartography.
The reality of Lake Parima and the Manoa is based upon Raleigh's misinterpretation of local trade networks. The Manoas were a river trading tribe based in the Amazon. Each year during the rainy season flooding on the Orinoco and Parima rivers would create a large flood plain and open channels of trade between the two otherwise unconnected regions. Raleigh misinterpreted these watery trade channels as a great lake and attached them erroneously to the El Dorado legend.
A beautifully engraved title cartouche adorns the bottom right quadrant of the map. To the left and right of the map are paste downs of French text with remarks and description of the map. Surrounding the whole is an elaborate decorative border featuring floral arrangements, surveying tools, elaborate baroque scalloping, and a winged globe. This map was issued as plate no. 49 in the most deluxe edition of Desnos’ 1786 Atlas General Methodique et Elementaire, Pour l’Etude de la Geographie et de l’Histoire Moderne.
Louis Brion de la Tour (1756-1823) 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. What is known is that much of his work was produced in collaboration with Danish royal Cartographer Louis Charles Desnos (fl. 1750 - 1790). His most notable work is generally regarded to be his 1766 Atlas General.
Louis Charles Desnos (1725-1805) was an important 18th century instrument maker, cartographer and globe maker based in Paris, France. 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 had his office on Rue St. Jacques, Paris.
Desnos, Louis-Charles, Atlas General Methodique et Elementaire, Pour l’Etude de la Geographie et de l’Histoire Moderne, 1786.
The Atlas general, civil, ecclesiastique et militaire, methodique et elementaire was issued by Louis Brion de la Tour (1756-1823) and Louis Charles Desnos (1725-1805) from about 1764 with subsequent reissued until about 1790. It was intended for use by the 'young nobles of the Ecole Royale Militaire,' but also proved popular with general audiences. The atlas was compiled using an uncommon printing method involving multiple pressings as well as paste downs for each page. Typically maps from the atlas feature an elaborate rococo decorative border containing a smaller map of approximately 10 x 14 inches, a title at the top and bottom of each page, and descriptive text, generally either a pastedown or separate printing to either side of the map. This unusual combination of printings and pastedowns allowed the publisher maximum flexibility and thus it is not uncommon to find variants of this atlas both with and without the decorative borer, with and without the descriptive pastedowns, pastedowns in different languages, and with changing titles for individual maps. There are various different collations for this atlas depending upon where it was intended to be sold. For example, versions sold in the United States and England replace the large map of France with new maps of the United States. It was not uncommonly bound with de la Tour's Atlas National de France.
Very good. Minor toning along original centerfold. Minor spotting at places. Original platemark visible.