CORONELLI, Vincenzo Maria (1650-1718)
America Settentrionale colle nuove scoperte fin all' anno 1688
Venice: V. M. Coronelli, [1690, or later]. Copper-engraved map, on two joined sheets, in excellent condition. Sheet size: 25 1/4 x 37 1/4 inches.
A superlative impression of Coronelli's important and innovative map, and a foundation map for any serious collection of the cartography of North America
Vincenzo Maria Coronelli, a Venetian scholar and Minorite Friar, became one of the most celebrated map and globe makers of his era. Throughout his industrious life he produced more than one-hundred terrestrial and celestial globes, several hundred maps, and a wealth of cartographic publications. In 1683, he completed the Marly Globes for Louis XIV, the largest and most magnificent globes ever made. In 1684 he founded the Academia Cosmografica degli Argonauti, the first geographical society, and was appointed Cosmographer of the Republic of Venice. He published two atlases, the Atlante Veneto (Venice, 1691) and the Isolario (1696-98), and compiled the first encyclopaedia to be arranged alphabetically.
This magnificent map of North America, published in the Atlante Veneto , is widely considered to be one of Coronelli's finest maps, and is cartographically similar to the scene depicted on his famous globe of 1688. Printed initially on two separate sheets, the present example has been carefully joined to form a wonderful unified image. The map is beautifully preserved in its uncoloured state, as originally intended. Artistically, it is a masterpiece of late Baroque engraving. Its title cartouche, featuring scenes of gods blessing the era of European expansion evince the sumptuous style of Coronelli's Venice. Finely engraved scenes of native Americans and real or imagined beasts adorn the land and seas.
Apart from displaying a fine aesthetic sense, Coronelli has rendered the continent with far greater geographical detail than his contemporaries, having benefited enormously from his favour at the French court and his publishing partnership with Paris cartographer Jean-Baptiste Nolin. The Great Lakes are drawn with unrivalled accuracy, drawing on information gleaned in 1673 by the Quebecois explorer Louis Jolliet, and his traveling companion, the French-born Jesuit Jacques Marquette. The Mississippi basin is rendered with great detail, reflecting French discoveries, most notably those by René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle on his first expedition of 1679-82. This map depicts La Salle's dramatic misplacement of the mouth of the Mississippi 600 miles to the west of its true location. Importantly, it is on the western portion of the map where Coronelli has added the most significant amount of new information, drawn mostly from a highly important manuscript map by Diego Dionisio de Peñalosa Briceño y Berdugo, which included numerous previously unrecorded place names and divided the Rio Grande into the Rio Norte and the Rio Bravo in the south. The manuscript map was probably originally prepared by Peñalosa between 1671 and 1687 as part of his attempts to interest the French King Louis XIV in his plans to mount an military expedition against New Spain. The most prominent geographical detail of the map is California's appearance as a massive island, this map being one of the best renderings of this beloved misconception. The precise geographical details are enlivened by the presence of numerous captions noting discoveries or details of the terrain.
Burden, The Mapping of North America II 643; Mapping the West pp.43-47; Cumming The Exploration of North America p.148; Leighly California as an Island 88; Martin Maps of Texas and the Southwest p.87; McLaughlin California as an Island 103; Portinaro pl.CII; Phillips Maps p. 795; Shirley 548; Tooley America p.125 ; cf. Tooley Maps & Map-Makers p. 21; Wheat Trans-Mississippi West I, 70.