Johann Baptist Homann.
“Amplissima Regionis Mississipi seu Provinciae Ludovicianae
. . .” (Nuremberg: Io. Bapt. Homanno, c. 1720 [–1763]).
Published in Atlas geographicus major Norimbergae Homannianis
heredibus . Double-page copperplate engraving with bright
original full and outline hand color. 19 x 22 3/8" at neat
line. Framed size: 34 1/2 x 35 1/2". Uncolored title cartouche,
u. l., shows Father Hennepin with allegorical figures related to the
exploration of the New World and below them a famous view of Niagara
Falls. An uncolored vignette, l. r., presents a very early
representation of an American bison flanked by Indians. Latin and
French text. Very minor surface soiling. Overall, fine (by sight).
Handsome archival presentation in gold-tone frame.
German cartographer Homann’s
“Louisiana Province” is one of the most attractive early
maps of the American interior—as well as being politically
provocative. It represents essentially the eastern half of the
United States, but focuses on the enormous region called “La
Louisiane,” the ownership of which had been a political hot
button between Spain and France throughout the 1700s.
Homann’s model for his map
was Delisle’s important “Carte de la Louisiane et du
Cours du Mississipi” of 1718. Delisle’s labeling of the
territory west of the Appalachians as “La Louisiane”
assumed a French proprietorship that provoked angry protests from
the Spanish and British governments. Homann repeated the label on
the present map, thus perpetuating a cartographic war in which the
mapmakers of each country issued publications showing their
preferences toward political claims.
Homann departs from the Delisle
model, however, in his delineation of the Spanish territory of
Florida, which he shows as occupying primarily the Southeast. (A
variant issue of the map indicates a much more extensive northern
boundary, i.e., reaching as far north as the Appalachians.) Further
details include a very early form of the word “Texas,”
seen in the legend reading “Mission de las Teyas, etablie en
1716” near present-day San Antonio. Routes of early explorers
are shown and dated; the New Mexico pueblos are named as far north
as Taos, as are the locations of Indian tribes and of many early
Homann dedicated the map to the
French priest Louis Hennepin, who explored the Great Lakes regions
and claimed to have reached the mouth of the Mississippi River. The
dedication is actually a reinforcement of French proprietorship of
the Louisiana region. Hennepin also claimed to have made the first
drawing of Niagara Falls, an accomplishment recognized on the map by
the inclusion of a much-copied view of the falls pictured below the
title cartouche featuring Hennepin.
flourishes are, in fact, the hallmark of his style, and his maps are
particularly notable for their well-engraved thematic cartouches.
The depiction of New World symbols on this map is especially
engaging, as for example in the fascinating representation of an
American buffalo flanked by male and female Indians with a pelican
in the foreground. This is a wonderfully detailed map, especially
fine for the Mississippi Basin and the Great Lakes region. An
outstanding and dramatic example that represents 18th-century
mapping of the area before the great explosion of knowledge in the
later period of colonization.
Antique Maps, p. 86 (variant ed. illus.); Cumming, The
Southeast in Early Maps, p. 213; Goss, Mapping of North
America, map 49 (variant edition illus. in color); Lowry, p.
333; Martin and Martin, p. 99 (for Delisle map); Wheat, Mapping
the Transmississippi West, no. 144, p. 146 (note).