An exceptionally rare and magnificent wall map of the world showing for the first time in print the east coast of Australia and the ‘Mer de l’Ouest’ in the north west of North America. Jean Baptiste Nolin’s magnificent wall map represents a perfect example of the bridge between the seventeenth century Dutch style of map making and that of the French which would ensue in the eighteenth century.
For the first time on a printed map Australia is given a hypothetical east and partial southern coastline. The coast of New Guinea here sweeps out in to the Pacific and back south to connect with Tasmania. This in turn connects with the south coast of Australia at the point at which Pieter Nuyts finished exploring in 1627. This configuration was to be used by future French cartographers in to the middle of the century. The origin of this form is believed to be the so-called Bonaparte map of Australia, now held at the New South Wales State Library. This in turn is believed to be a direct copy of the original map constructed during Tasman’s voyages to Australia between 1642 and 1644.
The map is also significant in depicting for the first time the fictitious body of water called the ‘Mer de l’Ouest’ in the north west of North America. It is linked to the ‘Baye du Nord’ thus supporting the conjecture of a north-west passage. Its use generated a law suite by the de L’Isle family who claimed that the concept had been acquired from a manuscript made by de l’Isle in 1699. It was claimed that the manuscript was presented to M. Boucherat, who had lent it to Nolin who subsequently had copied the idea. In many other regards the Nolin differs significantly from the de l’Isle.
The voyages of several explorers are depicted including Tasman, Mendana, Le Marie, Chaumont, Olivier and Pointy. Surrounding the double hemispheres are depictions of the cosmos and the Creation designed by the painter Bocquet who receives acknowledgement. It is crowned by four magnificent figures supporting the hemispheres. The four panels surrounding feature descriptive text below, images and descriptions of the ancient world on the left and the modern world to the right.
This first state of the wall map is of such rarity that Shirley gave it his highest rating. Only two other examples are recorded at the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris and the Louisiana State Museum. Armitage (2012) p. 69-70; Shirley (1984) 605.