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1692 / 1696 Coronelli Map of India

Penisola dell'Indo di qua del Gange, e L'Isola di Ceilan Nell'Indie Orientali. - Main View

1692 / 1696 Coronelli Map of India


Unrecorded, unique details from unidentified sources.


Penisola dell'Indo di qua del Gange, e L'Isola di Ceilan Nell'Indie Orientali.
  1692 (undated)     17.75 x 24 in (45.085 x 60.96 cm)     1 : 4600000


This is Vincenzo Maria Coronelli's large 1692 map of the Indian peninsula, presenting detail not appearing on any prior map.. Many of Coronelli's maps, even most of them, were derived from his globes - notably his 1688 42-inch terrestrial globe. However, the details here do not refer to his printed gores. Coronelli intended his initial atlases - his Atlante Veneto and Corso Geografico Universale - to be extensions of Blaeu's great atlas. Thus it makes sense that in the first volume of his work, Coronelli focused on peninsular India, a region neglected by Blaeu. While Blaeu had produced a map of the Mogul Empire based on the 1619 Baffin map, the full extent of India south of the Moguls was included only in Blaeu's general map of the East Indies. Coronelli was not the only mapmaker after Blaeu to address the region, but he was the first to present it in so grand a format.
...'Pleasing to the Artist's eye'...
Susan Gole sniffs disapprovingly at Coronelli's map: 'Coronelli published two very decorative maps of the subcontinent, which are more pleasing to the artist's eye than the geographer's...' and indeed the map, as is typical of the work of Coronelli's shop, is beautifully engraved. The coastline of the peninsula recognizably follows the late 16t century cartography of Linschoten. The interior topography differs sharply from the Dutch model: where Dutch maps placed a sharp spine of mountains neatly bisecting the Peninsula, Coronelli follows Sanson and Cantelli in scattering mountains more liberally. The size, number, and pictorial quality of the mountains seems to disguise the paucity of fine interior detail.
A Neglected Map with Surprising Detail
We do not agree with Gole's disappointment. The entire west coast of the map, and areas just inland, show features which do not appear on any earlier printed maps, and very few to follow. In the province of Decan, a string of settlements running inland to the fortress of Visapur is shown, continuing again to the southwest towards Goa. The appearance of a close stringing of named cities, such as this, indicates a specific travelers' report. This instance does not appear on any earlier map, and it does not appear on Coronelli's other printed maps or globes. This strongly suggests the exclusive receipt of fresh information. Its next appearance on a map, to our knowledge, is on the 1719 Guillaume De l'Isle map Carte des Cotes de Malabar et de Coromandel.

Moreover, further to the south in Malabar (inexplicably named 'Regno di Madagascar') there is a meticulously detailed system of rivers with named towns well inland from the coast. Again, this does not appear on any other map of the 17th century, and we have not seen this information reproduced on any since.
The map includes no direct reference to specific geographical sources, much less for the unique features mentioned above. Manonmani Restif-Filliozat, in her 2019, The Jesuit Contribution to the Geographical Knowledge of India in the Eighteenth Century, explored the neglected field of Jesuit geographers and their transfer of knowledge to De l'Isle and d'Anville but did not reveal similar activity in the seventeenth century. The striking similarities between the Decan coast of Coronelli's map with that on the otherwise dissimilar 1719 De l'Isle suggests a relationship between the cartographers' sources. Coronelli's connections with French Jesuits were very well established and - with respect to the Americas and the Far East, well understood. It is entirely possible that here, too, Coronelli had access to a yet-unidentified Jesuit geographical source. The presence of such unique features suggests further scrutiny may unveil additional singular details. The importance of this map must be reassessed.
The Scope and General Content of the Map
Coronelli's map focuses on India south of Guzarat and the mouth of the Ganges, and spanning from the mouth of the Indus River to the Ganges delta. The eastern extreme of the map embraces the Andaman Islands. In the oceans to the left and right are inset detail maps. One depicts the island of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and the other both the Bay of Trincomalee or Cotiari, and the fortifications on the Isoletta del Sole (since the Second World War known as Great Sober Island). Off the coast, between Goa and Bombay, a putto bears a coat of arms - almost certainly that of the dedicatee, Ottavio Manin. (Manin, the Procurator of St. Mark, was one of the most powerful men in Venice, and Coronelli dedicated several maps to him.)
Publication History and Census
The map was engraved for inclusion in Coronelli's 1692 Corso Geografico Universale, and was thereafter included in his Isolario, generally included as part of his Atlante Veneto. There are only seven examples of the separate map listed in OCLC. Coronelli's Isolario is, however, well represented in institutional collections.


Vincenzo Maria Coronelli (August 16, 1650 - December 9, 1718) was an important 17th century cartographer and globe maker based in Venice. Coronelli was born the fifth child of a Venetian tailor. Unlikely to inherit his father's business, he instead apprenticed in Ravenna to a woodcut artist. Around 1663, Coronelli joined the Franciscan Order and in 1671, entered the Venetian convent of Saint Maria Gloriosa dei Frari. Coronelli excelled in the fields of cosmography, mathematics, and geography. Although his works include the phenomenal Atlante Veneto and Corso Geografico, Coronelli is best known for his globes. In 1678 Coronelli was commissioned to make his first major globes by Ranuccio II Farnese, Duke of Parma. Each superbly engraved globe was five feet in diameter. Louis IV of France, having heard of the magnificent Parma globes, invited Coronelli to Paris where he constructed an even more impressive pair of gigantic globes measuring over 12 feet in diameter and weighing 2 tons each. Coronelli returned to Venice and continued to published globes, maps, and atlases which were admired all over Europe for their beauty, accuracy, and detail. He had a particular fascination for the Great Lakes region and his early maps of this area were unsurpassed in accuracy for nearly 100 years after their initial publication. He is also well known for his groundbreaking publication of the first accurate map depicting the sources of the Blue Nile. At the height of his career, Coronelli founded the world's first geographical society, the Accademia Cosmografica degli Argonauti and was awarded the official title Cosmographer of the Republic of Venice. In 1699, in recognition of his extraordinary accomplishment and scholarship, Coronelli was also appointed Father General of the Franciscan Order. The great cartographer and globe maker died in Venice at the age of 68. His extraordinary globes can be seen today at the Bibliothèque Nationale François Mitterrand in Paris, Biblioteca Marciana in Venice, in the National Library of Austria and in the Globe Museum in Vienna, in the library of Stift Melk, in the Special Collections Library of Texas Tech University, as well as lesser works in Trier, Prague, London, and Washington D.C. Coronelli's work is notable for its distinctive style, which is characterized by high quality white paper, dark intense impressions, detailed renderings of topographical features in profile, and numerous cartographic innovations. More by this mapmaker...


Coronelli, V., Isolario, (Venice), 1697.     Coronelli firmly established his reputation as a globe maker in 1683 when he created an astonishing pair of enormous manuscript globes for Louis XIV of France. These measured fifteen feet in diameter and were the largest globes produced to date. (The King declared these to be 'not the least of his ornaments' in Versailles.) Basking in his success - for which he was awarded a fifteen-year privilege - Coronelli was quick to produce a printed 3 1/2 foot terrestrial and celestial globe pair for sale to the public. The 1688 globes were the largest printed globes to date, and Coronelli considered them to be his greatest work in print. He was not without justification. Their superb engraving and encyclopedic geographic detail, not to mention their great size, set them easily amongst the finest globes produced in the 17th century. Desiring to display the quality of these works to a broader audience, and to challenge any potential competition, Coronelli published in 1697 a volume variously titled Libro dei Globi or Palestra Litteraria containing his globe gores. (The title page bore a date of 1693, but the earliest known printing of the book was four years later.) 1697 was busy: Coronelli also included most of the gores from his terrestrial globe among conventional maps in his Atlante Veneto and Isolario that same year. The Libro dei Globi presented the gores of the globes as completely as possible, resulting in considerable overlap but allowing the gores to be viewed consecutively, highlighting their execution as a single work. The gores were employed in the Atlante Veneto as conventional maps. They accompanied the text of the volume, were not shown consecutively, and were not intended to be viewed as a whole.

In 1686 Coronelli had contracted with the French engraver Jean Baptiste Nolin to produce an edition of the 3 1/2 foot celestial globe, and several geographical maps. This publication of work through Paris expanded Coronelli's reach as a map publisher and provided the basis for much of his early cartographic output. The terrestrial globe to accompany the celestial was not executed in Paris but in Venice, where Coronelli was able to attract some of the era's finest artists. Augsburg engraver Filipp Kilian provided masterful work on the cartouches. Most of the engraving of the globe was assigned to Alessandro della Via, whose work on the Venice edition of the 1688 celestial globe Coronelli declared superior to that of the Nolin. Shirley enthused:
The engraving and design throughout is of the highest standard with neat contrasting lettering and five large cartouches of singular grace and elegance... Coronelli seems to have sought to omit nothing that might be of interest to geographers, navigators, and explorers. There are an unusual number of legends, all explanatory and informative, but which never crowd the space available. Many of the vignettes of ships and fishing scenes throughout the world are worthy of separate reproduction.
Complete sets of these gores are to be found in the British Library and the Library of Congress: they are of extraordinary rarity.

Even at the time of production, globes were prohibitively expensive to produce and purchase in comparison with printed books. To compare, the 3 1/2 foot globe pair with stands cost 1240 Venetian Lire in 1697. The first volume of Coronelli's Atlante Veneto was 55.16 Lire. Therefore in order to reach a broader audience with his globes, and to get better return for the expense of producing the copperplate gores, Coronelli produced his Libro dei Globi which - though still tipping the scales at 310 Lire - would bring the magnificent engraving and detail of his work to those unwilling or unable to cough up twice as much for a single globe. It included the gores of all of Coronelli's globes - though a buyer hoping to construct the largest of these globes with the gores therein would have been sorely disappointed. The format of the books would not allow for the printing of the full-length gores of the 3 1/2 foot globe, which were therefore printed with portions masked off. Since this process did not change the plates, but merely obscured the parts which were not to be printed, it meant that different parts of the same gore could be chosen for different printings. This becomes significant when addressing the specific source of one or another of these bound gores: those printed in the Libro dei Globi shared consistent latitudes, and thus could be easily arranged consecutively and read as they might be on a globe. The same gores printed in Coronelli's 1697 Isolario did not necessarily share that consistency. For that matter, different copies of the Libro dei Globi itself likely contained different maskings of the same gores. Studies of the book - of which there are but a dozen copies identified - show them to be made-to-order volumes with great variation in the inclusion of supplemental materials. No two are identical. It should be rembered that none of the books were intended for the production of a globe, or to replace one: As Scianna points out:
If Coronelli really wanted to collect all the prints he used for the gores of his globes in a single book, he would have to realize a volume of 180-184 plates, whereas no copy has that many. The most extensive copy is the one kept in Yale that has 167 plates; therefore even in this copy several plates are omitted.
As alluded to above, Coronelli's Isolario, descrizione geografico-historia would see the mapmaker again employing the terrestrial globe gores - again, not as a representation of a complete globe, but as illustrative maps in a broader geographical text accompanied by conventional maps, views, and diagrams. The plates for the globe were approximately six inches too long to fit the format in which his books would be printed, so for the books Coronelli had the plates masked off at one end or the other to restrict the printed image to the half-folio sheets, and occasionally even smaller portions for insertion to the text. For most of the gores, Coronelli chose to mask the portions closest to the poles and to have the sheets centered on the tropics. In specific cases, he instead chose to present the areas ending at the Arctic or Antarctic circles, generally when there were features he wished to highlight: Hudson's Bay, for example, or Tierra del Fuego.

The publication of the Libro dei Globi appears to have spanned both sides of the printing of the Isolario. A number of these - which seem to date as late as 1705 - bear the title Palestra Litteraria. This translates roughly to 'Literary Gymnasium' but Dr. Helen Wattis rendered it as 'Literary Wrestling Match' to capture the spirit in which the book was produced. Coronelli presented the work as a direct challenge to any cartographer, geographer, or astronomer to 'criticize or to compare with any other globe, the globes of Coronelli.' A modern rendition of 'Literary Throwdown' might not be amiss.


Very good. Faint offsetting, else excellent.


OCLC 733642548. Gole,S., Early Maps of India, 23 b. Rumsey 11391.107.