1775 Mannevillette Harbor Chart of Port Louis, Mauritius

Plan du Port Louis de l'Isle de France, Levé en 1771 et Revu en 1775, de basse Mer, par M. de Boisquenay Capitaine de Brulot. - Main View

1775 Mannevillette Harbor Chart of Port Louis, Mauritius


Key Port in the Indian Ocean.


Plan du Port Louis de l'Isle de France, Levé en 1771 et Revu en 1775, de basse Mer, par M. de Boisquenay Capitaine de Brulot.
  1775 (dated)     19 x 13.25 in (48.26 x 33.655 cm)     1 : 3612


This is a 1775 harbor chart of Port Louis, a critical port in northwest Mauritius for the Indian Ocean trade. At the time Mauritius was a French possession known as l'Isle de France.
Historical Context
Port Louis offered favorable to ships approaching from India and the Spice Islands - as opposed to Mauritius's other major harbor, Grand Port, which served ships coming around the Cape of Good Hope. The French used the island to resupply and refit ships bound, and as a wartime base to intercept enemy shipping.

Boisquenay - the Source
The present work is derived from a manuscript chart by 'M. De Boisquenay, Capitaine de Brulot'. Captain Boisquenay is elusive. We note a 1776 manuscript chart, very similar but not identical to this, attributed to him and held by the National Library of Australia.
Shipwrecks and a Singular Passage
The southern-oriented chart is rich in soundings, plainly indicating the singular passage into the harbor. More than a dozen mooring stones (labeled corps mort) appear along the channel. There are dozens of shipwrecks noted, most named. Charles Grant de Vaux, who wrote a history of the island in 1801 and who referred directly to this chart, ascribed the wrecks to a former 'ignorance of the navigation, which is now so well known.' Five of these wrecks can be seen at the end of a false channel approaching the east of the Isle des Tonneliers, supporting Grant's assertion. There are notations to distinguish between those wrecks which are fully underwater, fully visible, and those which are occasionally visible. In the middle of the channel is an anchored pontoon to allow the careening of ships without the putting them ashore. The fortifications are shown in detail, and depth soundings throughout indicate the narrow channel permitting access to the port and town - whose streets can be seen neatly laid out.
Publication History and Census
This chart was engraved for inclusion in the 1775 posthumous and much-expanded edition of Apres de Mannevillette's Neptune Oriental. We see it appearing in later editions but with differing letterpress pagination at the upper right. We see only five separate examples catalogued in OCLC, and it is very scarce on the market: we see no instance of it in dealer records or at auction.


Jean-Baptiste Nicolas Denis d'Après de Mannevillette (February 11, 1707 - March 1, 1780) was a French sailor, navigator, and hydrographer active in the mid-18th century. Mannevillette was born in Le Havre to a family of wealthy seafarers. He completed his first major voyage at 12, when he accompanied his father, Jean-Baptiste-Claude d'Après de Blangy, a captain of the Compagnie des Indes (French East India Company) vessel Solide to Bengal. On his return to France, he he studied mathematics and navigation in Paris under Joseph Nicholas De L'Isle (1688 - 1768) before returning to the sea at 19 as a fourth officer as on the merchant vessel Marechel d'Estrees. Mannevillette himself eventually attained the rank of Captain with the Compagnie des Indes. In the course of numerous voyages around Africa to India and China, Mannevillette collected and revised numerous nautical charts. His sophisticated use of the most modern instruments, most specifically the Octant or English Quarter, and keen mathematical mind, enabled Mannevillette to correct many significant errors common to earlier maps. These updates were eventually compiled and published in Mannevillette's most significant work, the 1745 Le Neptune Oriental. The 1745 Neptune Oriental was commissioned by the Compagnie des Indes and its production earned Mannevillette admission into the Academy of Sciences. The atlas was well received, but shortly after publication, most unsold examples were destroyed by the French Admiralty, who considered the secrets of East Indian navigation too dangerous for dissemination. In 1762 the Compagnie des Indes appointed Mannevillette director of chart at Lorient. In 1767 King Louis XV conferred the Order of St. Michael upon him and made him an associate of the Royal Marine Academy. In the 30 years following his first publication of Le Neptune Oriental, Mannevillette worked doggedly with his lifelong friend, Alexander Dalrymple (1737 - 1808) to update his original work with new and improved charts. In 1775, he republished his opus in a greatly expanded format - by this time nautical information was less tightly guarded. Mannevillette died on March 1, 1780 at 75 years of age. Learn More...


Apres de Mannevillette, Jean-Baptiste-Nicolas-Denis  Neptune Oriental (Depot Generale de la Marine: Paris) 1775.     Le Neptune Oriental was a large-scale maritime atlas issued in 1745 by Jean-Baptiste Nicolas Denis d'Après de Mannevillette, a wealthy French sailor and hydrographer. From his first voyage as an adult in 1726, Mannevillette collected, revised, and created new nautical charts. These he published 20 years later in the first edition of Le Neptune Oriental, an important work issued for the Compagnie des Indes (French East India Company), for whom Mannevillette was a captain. The first edition of Le Neptune Oriental containing some 22 charts, was received and earned him accolade on both navigational and scientific circles. Nonetheless, according to Manonmani Filliozat, writing in the Indian Journal of the History of Science,
The French Admiralty considering that the Neptune Oriental was too dangerous for ... ordered the remaining copies to be destroyed. (#292, 1994, p. 341)
This accounts somewhat for the extreme scarcity of the first edition and all of the maps contained therein. We also note a supportive comment in a, 1763 catalog of maps and charts issued by the French chart and map dealer Roch-Joseph Julien (1745 - 1779). Mannevillette nonetheless continued to collect and revise nautical chart for the next 30 years, often working with the important English cartographer Alexander Dalrymple (1737 - 1808). In 1775, he issued greatly expanded and updated second edition of Le Neptune Oriental. This time with an additional 41 charts, making a total of 63 charts. This edition also proved popular and was widely disseminated. As noted by multiple cartobibliographers, there are variations between examples and no two seem to be identical, suggesting that many were compiled to order, often with additional maps that could be purchased but which were not in the standard collation. The second edition was published in Paris by Demonville and in Brest by Malassis. In 1781, one year after Mannevillette's, another work, Supplement au Neptune Oriental was issued, also by Demonville and Malassis.


Very good. One prominent rust spot, else excellent with a strong plate mark and a bold strike.


OCLC 842469990. Rumsey 13102.026 (1810 edition).