By: Philippe Buache
Date: 1752 (Published) Paris
Dimensions: 12 x 14.75 inches (30.1 x 37.5 cm)
This interesting pair of maps published as a single sheet was in a ten-part series of maps published by Didier Robert de Vaugondy in his supplement to Denis Diderot’s Encyclopédie dealing primarily with North America, and investigating the evidence for the existence of a Northwest Passage. The maps cover new discoveries of the great northern sea, most of North America, and parts of Russia and Asia. The supplement to the Encyclopédie is considered one of the first studies of comparative cartography. The map was part of Buache’s work ‘Considerations Geographiques sur les Nouvelles Decouvertes au Nord de la Grande Mer’, which was presented to the Academie Royale des Sciences in Paris between 1752 – 1754, and helped ignite one of the greatest debates in cartography in the 18th century.
The controversy which ensued following the publication of the Considerations Geographiques and revolved around the depiction of the Mer de l’Ouest in the Pacific Northwest of North America. Though Guillaume de l’Isle had produced a manuscript map in 1696 which toyed with the concept of an inland sea, the idea was not promoted for the next half century. Buache’s work was given much credence due to his relationship with the de l’Isle family, as son-in-law of Guillaume and brother-in-law to Joseph-Nicolas de l’Isle, who had recently returned from the St Petersburg Royal Academy with much fresh information gleaned by Russian expeditions and explorers. The lower portion of the sheet is derived from a map given to the president of the Royal Society in London, Hans Sloane, by Englebert Kaempfer, a German national who worked for the Dutch East India Company in Nagasaki. The notation to the left of the map claims that Kaempfer derived his information from a Japanese manuscript map that was said to have been found at the Palace of the Japanese Emperor, implying that the depiction represents Japanese and Chinese cartographic knowledge of the North Pacific. The map is thus of interest not only for its intriguing and speculative depictions as it relates to the Northwest passage and of the possibility of an inland route to the Pacific, but also because of its association with the body of maps found in the controversial Considerations Geographiques. The two-part map also illustrates how the idea of an inland sea sparked a generation of exploration in the Pacific Northwest, culminating in James Cook’s famous third voyage, organized to put the controversy to rest. It offers a rare glimpse into how the region was viewed by Asian cartographers.
Phillipe Buache (1700 - 1773) was a late 18th century French cartographer and map publisher. He began his cartographic career as the workshop assistant and apprentice to the important and prolific cartographer Guillaume de l'Isle. Upon De l'Isle's untimely death, Buache took over the publishing firm and firmly cemented the relationship by marrying de l'Isle's daughter. Over the years, Bauche republished many of de l'Isle's maps and charts. Buache was eventually appointed Premier Geographe du Roi, a position created-for and previously held by Guillaume de l'Isle. Buache introduced hachuring as a method for displaying underwater elevation on a two dimensional map surface. He compiled maps based upon geographic knowledge, scholarly research, the journals of contemporary explorers and missionaries, and direct astronomical observation. The era of speculatively cartography effectively ended with the late 18th century explorations of Captain Cook, Jean Francois de Galaup de La Perouse, and George Vancouver. Buache was succeeded by his nephew Jean-Nicholas Buache de Neuville.
Condition: This two-part map is in B+ condition with very minor spotting in a few places.
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