1786 (undated) 15 x 21 in (38.1 x 53.34 cm)
1 : 60000000
This is a exceptional map of the Western Hemisphere by de la Tour and Desnos dating to 1786. Covers the entire hemisphere in beautiful detail covering North America and South America. The routes of many explorers and important recent discoveries are noted. This is one of the few maps to depict the two competing theories of the Pacific Northwest region at the time.
The Northwestern coast of North America north of Capo Mendocino and Capo Blanc is shown extending westward and seemingly rejects the earlier maps which included the Sea of the West and speculative De Fonte network just to the north. However, on closer inspection, the Sea of the West and the Northwest Passage are both featured.
A magnificent inland sea, called the Sea of the West or in this case the Mer de L'Ouest, was a body of water, alternatively called the Sea of the West or Baye de l'Ouest. The Sea was a speculated by Philippe Buache and De l'Isle in the early 18th century based upon wishful thinking, American Indian stories, and the somewhat questionable 16th century explorations of Juan de Fuca.
Polynesia is mapped with numerous islands named. What is shown is 'Terre de 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.
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. 10 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 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.
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.
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 stain over the north Pacific Ocean. Original platemark visible. Water stains on top margin, not affecting printed area.