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Madlena Cavelti Hammer:

Jean-Frédéric d'Ostervald and his map of the Principality of Neuchâtel from 1838 to 1845

Cartographica Helvetica 9 (1994) 3–12


Jean-Frédéric d'Ostervald (1773–1850), descendant of an influential familiy of the city of Neuchâtel, was engaged in surveying and cartography for many years and he published two fundamental maps of his home canton. The first map was printed in 1811, monochrome at the 1:96,000 scale, showing the topography in the French hachuring style with the light at an oblique angle. The initial idea of a terrestrial survey at the 1:5,000 scale had to be abandonned because of the restricted financial resources of the governing Prussian state at that time and because of the Napoleon war. Ostervald moved to Paris where he worked for many years as a more or less successful publisher of art books.

A second, revised edition of the map of Neuchâtel was printed in 1837. Under the influence of general Guillaume Henri Dufour, Ostervald was at this time already engaged in a first and second order triangulation network. He also measured more than 1800 spot heights. The following, very accurate topographic survey 1:10,000 was reduced to the 1:25,000 scale by a group of six excellent collaborators such as Johann Rudolf Stengel, Henri L'Hardy and Rudolf Mohr.

The results were three sets of a multicoloured map in 16 sheets, covering the entire canton of Neuchâtel. These suberb, hand-drawn originals could not be reproduced at that time because of technical reasons. A road map of Switzerland in the 1:400,000 scale was the last masterpiece of Ostervald's long and glorious career, a career for which he fought very hard.

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