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Plan de la Ville de Cayenne by Jacques Nicolas Bellin, 1764

1764 Plan de la Ville de Cayenne

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By: Jacques-Nicolas Bellin 1703-1772

Date: 1764 (circa) Paris

Dimensions: 8.5 x 7 inches (21.6 x 17.8 cm)

This interesting map of the capital city of French Guiana, Cayenne, is by one of the most important map makers of the 18th century, Frenchman Jacques-Nicolas Bellin.

The city depicted was founded by French colonizers in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, approximately a hundred years after the area had been discovered by early French explorers. It served as a notorious penal outpost, and was overrun by indigenous peoples within a few decades. It was rebuilt in the mid-17th century and has remained the capital of the country to this day.

The map depicts the city’s defenses and its residential areas. Bellin provides a key at the top of the map with a list identifying structures and their positions, along with a distance legend in French. The elegant small compass rose orients the map NW.

Born in 1703 in Paris, Bellin was already making his way in his profession at the age of 18 when he was appointed chief cartographer to the French navy. He was a member of the intellectual elite of France who called themselves the Philosophes. Before his fortieth birthday he had been appointed official hydrographer to French king Louis XV, who had been interested in the natural sciences from an early age on, and who recognized the talent and ability of Bellin. When the king promoted him to this prestigious position,  Bellin’s place in French cartography was ensured. Bellin is known and remembered as one of the great European cartographers of his day. 

Condition: The image of this map is in A condition. There is damp staining along one edge, and some foxing and rust spots in edges.

Inventory #12182

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