1701 De Fer Map of the Duchy of Milan, Northern Italy

Les Estats du Duche de Milan. - Main View

1701 De Fer Map of the Duchy of Milan, Northern Italy




Les Estats du Duche de Milan.
  1701 (dated)     9 x 13.5 in (22.86 x 34.29 cm)     1 : 840000


This is a scarce 1701 map of the Duchy of Milan in Northern Italy by Nicholas De Fer. Centered on the city of Milan, it covers the northern part of Italy from Lake Como south to Bobbio and from Turin east as far as Lake Garda. Includes parts of the regions of Parma, Savoy, Piedmont, Switzerland, Venice and Mantua. The map renders the entire region in extraordinary detail offering both topographical and political information with mountains beautifully rendered in profile. The Naviglio Canal, one of the most important canals in Italy, is identified. Originally constructed as a possible defensive ditch in the mid- 12th century, the Naviglio Canal would eventually become the first artificial canal in all of Europe.

The Duchy of Milan, created in 1395, was a constituent state of the Holy Roman Empire. At the time this map was created, the Duchy was under Spanish control. Following the War of Spanish Succession, Spain would lose many of its territories in Italy, including the Duchy of Milan to Habsburg Austria, until in 1796, Napoleonic forces would conquer it. The Duchy of Milan would eventually cease to exist in 1797, with the signing of the Treaty of Campo Formio.

Overall, a very interesting and attractive map of the region surrounding Milan to appear in the beginning of the 18th century. This map was engraved by Harmanus van Loon and created by Nicholas De Fer for his 1701 Atlas.


Nicholas de Fer (1646 - October 25, 1720) was a French cartographer and publisher, the son of cartographer Antoine de Fer. He apprenticed with the Paris engraver Louis Spirinx, producing his first map, of the Canal du Midi, at 23. When his father died in June of 1673 he took over the family engraving business and established himself on Quai de L'Horloge, Paris, as an engraver, cartographer, and map publisher. De Fer was a prolific cartographer with over 600 maps and atlases to his credit. De Fer's work, though replete with geographical errors, earned a large following because of its considerable decorative appeal. In the late 17th century, De Fer's fame culminated in his appointment as Geographe de le Dauphin, a position that offered him unprecedented access to the most up to date cartographic information. This was a partner position to another simultaneously held by the more scientific geographer Guillaume De L'Isle, Premier Geograph de Roi. Despite very different cartographic approaches, De L'Isle and De Fer seem to have stepped carefully around one another and were rarely publicly at odds. Upon his death of old age in 1720, Nicolas was succeeded by two of his sons-in-law, who also happened to be brothers, Guillaume Danet (who had married his daughter Marguerite-Geneviève De Fer), and Jacques-François Bénard (Besnard) Danet (husband of Marie-Anne De Fer), and their heirs, who continued to publish under the De Fer imprint until about 1760. It is of note that part of the De Fer legacy also passed to the engraver Remi Rircher, who married De Fer's third daughter, but Richer had little interest in the business and sold his share to the Danet brothers in 1721. More by this mapmaker...

Harmanus van Loon (fl. c. 1690 - c. 1725) was a Flemish engraver active in Paris during the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Van Loon worked primarily in Paris and often signed his work, which includes maps and other engravings for such prominent cartographers as Nicolas de Fer, Jean Baptiste Nolin, Guillaume Delisle, and others. There is some speculation that he may have been related to the Brussels born painter Theodorus van Loon. Learn More...


Fer, Nicholas de, Cartes et Descriptions Generales et Particulieres pour l'intelligence des affaires du temps, au sujet de la Succession de la Couronne d'Espagne, en Europe, en Asie, Afrique, et Amerique, (Paris) 1701.    


Very good. Minor wear along original centerfold. Original platemark visible.