SANSON, Nicholas (1600-1667). Le Nouveau Mexique, et la Floride. Paris: Chez l'Auteur, 1679

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Single sheet, float-mounted and framed (17 x 23 inches; framed size 28 x 35 inches). Fine engraved map of North America by Jean Somer, the title within an elegant cartouche upper right, showing California as an island, the Gulf of mexico and Florida, all with fine original hand-colour in outline.

When this map was first published by Sanson in 1656 the area had never been depicted on "such a scale before... it improves upon Sanson's 'Amerique Septentrionale, of 1650, in many ways. Amongst them is the first application of ERIE LAC to a recognisable lake... A strong French assertion is made in FLORIDE FRANCOISE, an area of French inactivity for nearly 100 years. The southern portion of the Florida peninsula regains much of the accepted nomenclature that is absent on the North America. One further new introduction in the south is the use of 'Mar Pequeno' to identify the bay that collects the waters of the many rivers" (Burden).

In keeping with the geographical theories of the period, Sanson's map shows California as an island. This common misconception was not officially disproved until 1747. Sanson chose to include place names along California's western coast, four of which had not been depicted by other cartographers-C. de Fortune, C. de Pios, C. de S Martin and C. de Galera. Sanson also inserted Santa Fe as capital of New Mexico and introduced the words Apache and Navajo on the north-west coast of the continent.

Sanson family members were revered among the foremost map makers in France for nearly a century. A leading exemplar of the French school of 17th century cartography, Nicholas Sanson is widely regarded as the founder of modern geography and it is generally held that the so-called "Great Age" of French cartography originated with his publications. This exquisite, hand-colored map of is a prime example of Nicholas Sanson's cartographic mastery.

Sanson was born in Abeville, a town in the Picardy region of France, in the year 1600. As a young adult Sanson was a fervent historian, focusing his studies particularly on the ancient world. Many have hypothesized that Sanson turned to cartography simply as a way of illustrating his work on ancient history. Whatever his motivations for pursuing a career in map-publication, Sanson was undoubtedly the most prolific French cartographer during the reign of Louis XIV and as a result he was appointed Géographe Ordinaire du Roi in 1630. Sanson also served as a private geography tutor for the King.

In the span of his career, Sanson published some 300 maps and two world atlases. He produced his first map when he was 16 and published his first atlas in 1645. Sanson also produced a series of four octavo volumes, each one devoted to one of the four known continents. Sanson's productions were praised for their precision and renowned for their attention to detail without excessive decoration. Indeed, some critics argued that his maps were too stark. Burden 319.