By: John Thomson
Date: 1815 (Published) Edinburgh
Dimensions: 18.5 x 26.5 (47 x 67.3 cm)
This superb folio page from Thomson’s New General Atlas features two maps. The left map depicts Attica in central Greece, the home to Athens and the Plains of Marathon, and to its right is a map depicting Turkish Dominions in Europe. The map is engraved in the minimalist English style pioneered in the early part of the 19th century, a style which reduced maps’ decorative elements to a minimum. Relief is shown by hachure with towns, cities, and major topographical features identified.
At the time of publication of Thomson’s atlas, Greece was yet under the rigid and hated suzerainty of the Ottoman Turks. Finally in 1821 Greece became independent of Turkish rule and Attica and its famed historical sites from antiquity would become favourite stops for those making their ‘Grand Tour’ of Europe. Thus Thomson’s map became popular and sought after for its depiction of these places.
John Thomson (1777 - 1841) was a Scottish cartographer, publisher, and bookbinder active in Edinburgh during the early part of the 19th century. Thomson apprenticed under Edinburgh bookbinder Robert Alison. Thomson was one of the leading publishers in the Edinburgh school of cartography, which flourished in the early decades of the 19th century. Thomson and his contemporaries (Pinkerton and Cary) redefined European cartography by abandoning typical 18th century decorative elements such as elaborate title cartouches and fantastic beasts in favor of detail and accuracy.
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