This is a beautiful map of the southern portion of Upper Saxony, in what is now eastern Germany and northwest Czech Republic, by Robert de Vaugondy. It includes the Duchy of Thuringia and the Marquisate of Meissen and extends from Berlin to Prague in the Czech Republic and west as far as Gottingen in Germany. The entire region is depicted in extraordinary detailed, offering both topographical and political information, with forests and mountains beautifully rendered in profile.
The 'circles' of Germany are the 'imperial circles,' administrative units created for tax and defense purposes by the Holy Roman Empire, of which these areas were a part. The Napoleonic Wars would, of course, dissolve the Holy Roman Empire and lead to the consolidation of Germany in 1871.
In 1180 Duke Henry the Lion fell, and the medieval Duchy of Saxony dissolved. The Saxe-Wittenberg lands were passed among dynasties who took the tribal name Sachsen (Saxons) upstream as they conquered the lands of the Polabian Slavs further up the Elbe. The Polabian Slavs had migrated to this area of Germany in the second half of the first millennium A.D., and had been largely assimilated by the Holy Roman Empire by the time this map was made. Today, the German government recognizes some 60,000 'Sorbs,' or descendants of the Polabian Slavs, who have retained their language and culture.
This map was originally engraved by Catherine Haussard, one of the few female engravers active in Paris during the 18th century. Her fine work extends to the large and elaborate decorative title cartouche in the top left quadrant. Issued in the 1757 issue of the Atlas Universal. The Atlas Universal was one of the first atlases based upon actual surveys. Therefore, this map is highly accurate (for the period) and has most contemporary town names correct, though historic names are, in many cases, incorrect or omitted.
Gilles (1688 - 1766) and Didier (c. 1723 - 1786) Robert de Vaugondy were map publishers, engravers, and cartographers active in Paris during the mid-18th century. The father and son team were the inheritors to the important Sanson cartographic firm whose stock supplied much of their initial material. Graduating from Sanson's map's Gilles, and more particularly Didier, began to produce their own substantial corpus of work. Vaugondys were well respected for the detail and accuracy of their maps in which they made excellent use of the considerable resources available in 18th century Paris to produce the most accurate and fantasy-free maps possible. The Vaugondys compiled each map based upon their own superior geographic knowledge, scholarly research, the journals of contemporary explorers and missionaries, and direct astronomical observation - moreover, unlike many cartographers of this period, they commonly took pains to reference their source material. Nevertheless, even in 18th century Paris geographical knowledge was severely limited - especially regarding those unexplored portions of the world, including the poles, the Pacific northwest of America, and the interior of Africa and South America. In these areas the Vaugondys, like their rivals De L'Isle and Buache, must be considered speculative geographers. Speculative geography was a genre of mapmaking that evolved in Europe, particularly Paris, in the middle to late 18th century. Cartographers in this genre would fill in unknown areas on their maps with speculations based upon their vast knowledge of cartography, personal geographical theories, and often dubious primary source material gathered by explorers and navigators. This approach, which attempted to use the known to validate the unknown, naturally engendered many rivalries. Vaugondy's feuds with other cartographers, most specifically Phillipe Buache, resulted in numerous conflicting papers being presented before the Academie des Sciences, of which both were members. The era of speculatively cartography effectively ended with the late 18th century explorations of Captain Cook, Jean Francois de Galaup de La Perouse, and George Vancouver. Learn More...
Vaugondy, R., Atlas Universel (Paris) 1757.
The Atlas Universel was the crowning glory of the Robert de Vaugondy firm's atlas production. The atlas was revolutionary on many levels and exemplified the Vaugondy creedo commode, complet, univorme, et suive (convenient, complete, uniform, and easy to use). The atlas thus consisted of a wide corpus of maps, both modern and historical, was of moderate height and width, and featured maps of uniform style and structure. They partnered with Antoine Boudet, a shrewd businessman and publisher with whom they had worked previously, to produce the first edition. To minimize his fiscal risk, Boudet sold the atlas first by subscription using a large prospectus, receiving in the process over 1100 pre-orders. The first edition appeared in 1757 and contained beautifully produced maps with elaborate freshly designed allegorical cartouche work, generally by Pierre-Edme Babel, Pierre Philippe Choffard, and Charles Nicholas Cochin. Most of the maps were engraved by the Delahaye firm, the payment for whose services ultimately led to legal disputes. Despite proving a popular work of astounding quality, the Atlas Universal received harsh criticism from fellow cartographers, particularly Philipppe Buache. Ever at odds with the Vaugondys, Buache's critical perspective may have been influenced more by political maneuvering than academic affront. The atlas was issued in multiple editions between 1757 and 1788. Later editions, issued after 1786, were taken over by Charles Delamarche, who inherited the Robert de Vaugondy firm and assumed Boudet's publication rights.
Very good. Minor wear along original centerfold. Original platemark visible. Some spotting and offsetting with water stains near borders.
Rumsey 3353.060. Pedley, Mary Sponberg Belle et Utile: The Work of the Robert de Vaugondy Family of Mapmakers, 265.