1667 Sanson-Mariette Map of Madagascar

Isle d'Auphine, Communement Nommée par les Europeens Madagascar, et St. Laurens, et par les Habitans du Pays Madecase: Dressée Sur les Memoires du Sr. de Flacourt, et de François Cauche; et Sur Diverses autres Relations des François, Anglois, Portugais et Hollandois. Par le Sr. Sanson le Fils Geogr.' ordre. du Roy. A Paris. Chez Pierre Mariette Rue St. Jacques a l'Esperance Avec Privilege pour Vingt Ans. 1667. - Main View

1667 Sanson-Mariette Map of Madagascar


Magnificently Detailed Madagascar.


Isle d'Auphine, Communement Nommée par les Europeens Madagascar, et St. Laurens, et par les Habitans du Pays Madecase: Dressée Sur les Memoires du Sr. de Flacourt, et de François Cauche; et Sur Diverses autres Relations des François, Anglois, Portugais et Hollandois. Par le Sr. Sanson le Fils Geogr.' ordre. du Roy. A Paris. Chez Pierre Mariette Rue St. Jacques a l'Esperance Avec Privilege pour Vingt Ans. 1667.
  1667 (dated)     23 x 17.75 in (58.42 x 45.085 cm)     1 : 2900000


This is the first edition of Nicolas Sanson's 1667 new map of Madagascar. This map represents the most significant advancement of Madagascar cartography since the map of Étienne de Flacourt (1607 - 1660), who from 1648 to 1653 was French East India’s Governor of Madagascar, and who in 1658 published the first natural history of the island,Histoire de la grande isle Madagascar.
For this work, Flacourt produced an excellent (if plain) map: The Bibliotheque National de France has a manuscript map attributed to Flacourt dated 1656, a printed version of which appeared in Flacourt’s 1658 Isle de Madagascar autrement dicte Isle St. Laurens. This represents the first mapping of the island to improve substantially on Jan Huyghen van Linschoten's (1563 - 1611) work, and was far superior to any map of the island produced prior - including Sanson’s own map of 1657 (which though contemporaneous to Flacourt’s map, was astonishingly crude.) The present map far outstrips the Flacourt and its derivatives by Blaeu and De Fer. As with those maps, the best detail is concentrated in the southeast, but the whole reflects more information than was available even ten years prior.
Isle St. Marie
Just off the east coast of Madagascar lies the Isle St. Marie. First named Santa Maria by the Portuguese, it was the site of several failed attempts at settlement by the French and the English in the 1640s. This state of affairs would not last: by the 1690s, Isle St. Marie would become an infamous haven for English, French, and American pirates preying on the rich Indian Ocean trade. The map shows three settlements on the island: Regnasse, Ste. Marguerite, and 'Diannong.' It is notable that an indigenous name for the island appears here on the map. Isle St. Marie's Malagasy name is Nosy Boraha. Some sources associate the name 'Boraha' with a local Jonah-esque whale incident, but more frequently the name is translated to 'The Island of Abraham.' The origin of the name is obscure, but the name appearing on the map, 'Nossi Hibrahim ou Isle d' Abraham' tends reinforces not only the association with Abraham, but the notion that the name was first applied to the island by Arabic traders, whom the Portuguese had taken pains to drive away, partly for reasons of religion and partly to remove trade competition.
La Réunion
To the east of Madagascar the island now known as La Réunion, here named Isle Bourbon or 'De Mascaregne' appears. This island is shown on maps of Africa going back into the 16th century: this, however, is the most detailed 17th century mapping we have encountered. The Portuguese named the island Santa Apollonia in the 16th century, but never settled. In 1638, the French claimed it, officially occupying it in 1642 by marooning a dozen mutineers. The French changed the name to Île Bourbon in 1649, in honor of the French royal house. While the shape of the island is only approximate, its mountainous interior is clear, as is the plume of Réunion's Piton de la Fournaise, one of the world's most active volcanoes whose hundreds of recorded eruptions go back to the 17th century. The French East India Company would not seriously attempt colonization of Île Bourbon until 1665, two years prior to this map's publication.
Publication History and Census
This map was drawn by Sanson the last year of his life, but was printed by Pierre Mariette in partnership with Sanson's heirs for inclusion in their 1667 jointly-issued atlas. We see six examples of this separate map catalogued in OCLC.


Nicolas Sanson (December 20, 1600 - July 7, 1667) and his descendants were the most influential French cartographers of the 17th century and laid the groundwork for the Golden Age of French Cartography. Sanson was born in Picardy, but his family was of Scottish Descent. He studied with the Jesuit Fathers at Amiens. Sanson started his career as a historian where, it is said, he turned to cartography as a way to illustrate his historical studies. In the course of his research some of his fine maps came to the attention of King Louis XIII who, admiring the quality of his work, appointed Sanson Geographe Ordinaire du Roi. Sanson's duties in this coveted position included advising the king on matters of geography and compiling the royal cartographic archive. In 1644 he partnered with Pierre Mariette, an established print dealer and engraver, whose business savvy and ready capital enabled Sanson to publish an enormous quantity of maps. Sanson's corpus of some three hundred maps initiated the golden age of French mapmaking and he is considered the 'Father of French Cartography.' His work is distinguished as being the first of the 'Positivist Cartographers,' a primarily French school of cartography that valued scientific observation over historical cartographic conventions. The practice result of the is less embellishment of geographical imagery, as was common in the Dutch Golden Age maps of the 16th century, in favor of conventionalized cartographic representational modes. Sanson is most admired for his construction of the magnificent atlas Cartes Generales de Toutes les Parties du Monde. Sanson's maps of North America, Amerique Septentrionale (1650), Le Nouveau Mexique et La Floride (1656), and La Canada ou Nouvelle France (1656) are exceptionally notable for their important contributions to the cartographic perceptions of the New World. Both maps utilize the discoveries of important French missionaries and are among the first published maps to show the Great Lakes in recognizable form. Sanson was also an active proponent of the insular California theory, wherein it was speculated that California was an island rather than a peninsula. After his death, Sanson's maps were frequently republished, without updates, by his sons, Guillaume (1633 - 1703) and Adrien Sanson (? - 1708). Even so, Sanson's true cartographic legacy as a 'positivist geographer' was carried on by others, including Alexis-Hubert Jaillot, Guillaume De L'Isle, Gilles Robert de Vaugondy, and Pierre Duval. Learn More...

Pierre Mariette (1569 - 1657) was a French publisher and engraver active in Paris during the first half of the 19th century. Mariette established himself as successful publisher of art prints, but decided to turn his energy to map with the purchase of Melchior Tavernier map plates in 1644. Tavernier had partnered with Sanson before his death and Mariette followed suite. Around 1644- 1648 Mariette partnered with Nicolas Sanson, a then nascent figure in French cartography, to produce folio maps and atlases. The Sanson-Mariette relationship depended upon Sanson to draw and obtain rights for the maps while Mariette engraved them and paid for the expensive printing process. The two then shared rights to the maps into perpetuity. The finished copper plates were split between two such that neither could publish an atlas without the other's assent. The relationship seemed reasonably amicable until Mariette's death in 1657, when disputes arose between Sanson and Mariette's heirs. A court battle finally returned the most of the plates to Sanson's own heirs in 1674. As a consequence, some printings feature the Mariette imprint, others the Sanson imprint, and still others both imprints. Learn More...

Étienne de Flacourt (1607 – 1660) was a French governor of Madagascar, born at Orléans in 1607. He was French East India Company's governor of Madagascar in 1648. In 1658 he authored L'Histoire de le Grand île de Madagascar, the first detailed natural history of the island, for which he prepared a map which represented the first improvement on the geographical knowledge of the island since Linschoten. Flacourt was one of the few, if not the only, Westerner to have recorded knowledge of the elephant birds of Madagascar when they were possibly still extant. Learn More...


Very good. Marginal mends not affecting printed image. Original outline color.


OCLC 494526068.