Nicolas Sanson

Basse Aethiopie

Engraving, 1655.
Published in Paris with original outline color.
Image: 22 x 16 1/2
Paper: 24 x 18 1/8
Excellent condition.

Inventory Number: 11205
Lower Ethiopia which includes the Kingdom of Congo.

Nicolas Sanson is called ‘the father of French cartography.’ Modern cartography is usually thought of beginning with a period dominated by the Dutch school, with such notables as Ortelius, Mercator, Blaeu, and Hondius. This age was followed by a period of dominance by the French school of cartography, the beginning date of which is usually given as 1650, when Nicolas Sanson was publishing his important maps. The importance of Sanson is reflected by the fact that it is with his maps that the center of cartographic publishing and influence shifted from the Low Countries to France. Whereas the Dutch cartographers are known for their fabulous decorations and coloring, the French cartographers, led by Sanson, are known for their pioneering the scientific method of cartography. The maps following are excellent evidence of this shift in emphasis, with the topographical information presented representing only that data that could reliably be counted as having a scientific accuracy, and with this information depicted with a clear and precise simplicity.

Besides his up-to-date modern maps, Sanson also produced a very interesting group of maps showing the “ancient” world. There was considerable interest in this period during the seventeenth century, so Sanson took the best information he had available on the countries, cities and peoples of the distant past, and placed it on his modern geographical rendering. These are very interesting examples from one of the great map makers of early modern cartography. All the are decorative as well as historically significant, for they have attractive hand color and decorative baroque cartouches, and all are engraved in a precise, elegant manner.