BELLIN, Jacques-Nicolas (1703-1772). The Drau River from Lienz in East Tirol to Zegedin in Hungary. Paris: ca 1762-1767
3 sheets joined, and a short extension to the lower margin (sheet size: 13 x 64 4/8 inches; 12 2/8 x 57 inches to the neat line). EXCEPTIONALLY FINE ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT MAP of the course of the Drau (Drava) River from Lienz in East Tirol to Zegedin (Szegedin) in Hungary, showing a potential canal that might join it to the Theiss (Tisza) River between Vukovar and Zegedin, the upper reaches of the Sau (Sava) and Kulpa (Kolpa) Rivers and the shores of the Adriatic at Trieste and Fiume (Rijeka), with a lengthy manuscript legend in the left-hand margin, probably in Bellin's hand (old vertical folds with some discreet repairs to verso).
Provenance: early manuscript archival notes dated September 17th 1767 and 2nd November 1780 on the verso
A MAGNIFICENT AND IMPORTANT MAP of the vast area through which the Drava River, an important tributary of the Danube, flows. The western edge of the map shows the Drava at Lienz in East Tirol, near its source in the Italian South Tyrol, at the drainage divide of Toblach (Dobbiaco) in the Puster Valley. From there it flows eastwards through Carinthia in Austria into Slovenia and then southeast, passing through Croatia and forming most of the border between Croatia and Hungary, before it joining the Danube near Osijek. This exceptional hydrographical map covers parts of Hungary, Slovenia, Carniola, Carinthia, Northern Italy, and East Tyrol. It shows several hundred towns and all existing and planned canals and watercourses in the area at the time of drafting.
In the legend to the left of the map, in manuscript identical to that already associated with Bellin (see the manuscript Index of Bellin's "Cartes Marines". Paris: N. Bellin, 1737-1754 in the Arader Galleries library), the author of this map presents as his sources for this present map the anonymous cartographer of "the least deficient maps" of Carinthia and Hungary, but also his own works.
The artist's self-assured reference to his own mapping of the Trieste and Fiume coastlines in 1756 provides further evidence of his identity as that of Bellin. In 1756, the French cartographer and engineer Jacques-Nicolas Bellin published his "Hydrographie françoise", mapping all oceans and coastlines of the world. In addition, it seems unlikely that a military cartographer or a geographer working on the early Josephinic ordnance surveys would dare to comment on the inadequate mapping of Carinthia and Hungary and recommend the famous astronomer Maximilian Hell (1720-92) as the man best suited to the task.
Bellin's interest in creating a system of canals across newly industrialized Europe can be established from 1762 when he was the principal contributor to Diderot's "Encyclopédie" on the subject. The earliest date on the verso of the current map is late 1767, establishing a potential period for the creation of this map at between 1762 and 1767. Bellin was the most significant and influential chart publisher in eighteenth-century France. He was appointed chief cartographer and hydrographer to the French Navy in 1721, and "ingénier hydrographe" to the French navy's Dépôt des cartes et plans de la Marine in August 1741. Bellin was also a member of the Académie de Marine and of the Royal Society of London. During his 50-year career, Bellin published a number of atlases, including 'Hydrographie française' (1753), 'Carte de l'Amerique septentrionale' (1755), 'Petit Atlas Maritime' (1764), and 'Nouvelle méthode pour apprendre la géographie' (1769).
About twenty years later, cartographer Francois Jospeh Maire based in Vienna, describing himself as a hydrographer and military Engineer, published his own magnificent map "Carte Hydrographique des Etats de la Maison d'Autriche en deca du Rhin..." in 1786, giving a full overview of the water transportation links across the Austiran Empire, covering some of the same area from the Adriatic Sea north to Frankfurt and Dresden; from Dresden east to Prague and the Czech/Polish border; and east from the Adriatic coast covering Croatia, Bosnia and Slovenia, into Hungary and Romania. Catalogue note created with the help of Hofrat Dr. Franz Wawrik. Buchnummer des Verkäufers 19238