DE L'ISLE, Joseph Nicolas (1688-1768). Atlas Russicus, Mappa una Generali et Undeviginti Specialibus Vastissimum Imperium Russicum. St. Petersburg: Academie Imperialis Scientiarum, 1745.

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Folio (20 6/8 x 12 3/8 inches). Letterpress title-page in Latin and French, 6 pages of explanation of the maps, 8 pages of geographical dictionary in Latin and French, the final page including an engraved legend in German. 19 fine douple-page engraved regional maps of Russia, including on map 19 "Ostium fluvii Amur." the extreme point of Alaska and the Aleutian islands, and one large engraved foldiong general map of the Russian Empire, all mounted on guards, and each with fine original hand-colour in outline (lower outer corners expertly renewed not affecting the images). Modern half calf over early 19th-century marbled paper boards.


Provenance: With the perforated library stamp of the Free Library of Philadelphia on the title-page and small ink stamps on the first two pages of text; Francis Anthony Benevento II, his sale "Important Maps and Atlases", 6th May 2010, lot 69.


First Latin and French edition of De L'isle's "Atlas russicus…" In commissioning this great Atlas De L'isle Russia's greatest reforming Tzar, Peter the Great made a significant contribution to the modernization of his vast empire of Imperial Russia. The enlightened Tzar also invited De L'isle to found a school of Astronomy in St. Petersburg, and although Peter the Great died a year before De L'isle arrived in St. Petersburg in 1726, he was successful in achieving both of his Imperial commissions. Together with his partner Ivan Kirilov they founded the school of Astronomy and began the immense task of surveying the Russian Empire. Eventually the two men parted company and Kirilov decided to publish his own incomplete atlas of Russia in 1734, eleven years before Deslisle's French team finished its more comprehensive work. Delisle's atlas contained virtually every map of Russia issued by the Academy of Sciences and its institutional predecessor, Akademia Nauk, up to and including 1745, thirteen maps of European Russia and six of Siberia. On his return to Paris in 1747, Delisle was able to construct his own observatory in the palace of Cluny, the same observatory later made famous by French astronomer Charles Messier. Ralph E. Ehrenberg, "Mapping the World" (Washington D.C., 2006), 135; Phillips 3109. Catalogued by Kate Hunter