1843-1850 Amerique Septentrionale
By: Victor Levasseur
Date: 1843-1850 (circa)
Dimensions: 13 x 17 inches (33 x 43.2 cm)
Levasseur’s highly desirable, visually stunning map of North America appropriately features in the central foreground an allegorical figure holding a staff of Cadeceus, an ancient symbol of good fortune in commerce, with the contents of a cornucopia spilling over the top of the cotton bale against which she reclines. A larger than life St. Bernard stands looking on. Other symbols in the map reveal not only the author’s knowledge but also his confidence in the great commerce which would follow as North America became settled.
A large part of the map’s appeal is in its elaborate allegorical border work. Levasseur composed this map for publication in his magnificent Atlas, one of the most decorative and beautifully produced atlases of the 19th century. What the map lacks cartographically speaking is compensated for in many ways, not the least of which is its depiction of the Republic of Texas, which was still noted as such at the time of the first few printings of this map. The map also shows the Oregon Territory extending well into British Columbia, reflecting claims which ended in dispute. The Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific is drawn as an open, virtually navigable seaway, and Russia is seen in control of Alaska. Wide and elaborate illustrative border work depicts the wealth of the Americas; cultural, natural, and commercial. In the lower left quadrant a European barters with indigenous peoples for the contents of a cornucopia including fruits and vegetables of many varieties. In the background behind them Levasseur depicts a Mesoamerican style pyramid. The dramatic mountain scenery which forms the backdrop for this side includes sheer, precipitous cliffs with waterfalls plunging, and a train crossing a mountainous gorge. To the right of the map Levasseur depicts a cross-section of the flora and fauna common to North and Central America, including a bison, a polar bear, an elk, some enormous vultures, a polar bear, an elk, a fox, an alligator, some snakes, and a leopard hidden in the undergrowth. Above the flora and fauna he depicts the far north; jagged mountain peaks and a snow-covered frozen landscape replete with a ship frozen fast in a sea of ice.
Victor Levasseur was an important French engineer, cartographer, and engraver of the mid-19th century who held a number of important cartographically related political and educations posts in France. He is most famous for his Atlas National Illustré des 86 Départements et des Possessions de La France, a large decorative atlas of France, including his Planisphere and five important continental maps. Levasseur's maps are distinctive for their wide decorative margins containing elaborate depictions of the scenery, peoples, and trade goods of the areas he mapped. Levasseur maps are also known to offer a wealth of statistical data. Until recently, very few Levasseur Atlases had migrated out of France, where they were mostly used in public libraries and town halls.
Condition: This map is in A condition with original color outlining territorial/international boundaries.
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