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Christine Marie Petto:

Cartography as a State task: the advancement for French map-makers in the 17th and 18th centuries

Cartographica Helvetica 12 (1995) 38–41


During the reign of Louis XIV, cartography profited from an increase in the support of mapmaking activities by the state. Although the benefit of maps was well-appreciated by the government before this time, it was not until the last quarter of the 17th century that an increase in financial support, a strong state interest, and an improved technical knowledge combined to make France pre-eminent in the field of cartography for nearly a century.

The author studied this period by an investigation of the system of patronage – the support for cartography from the establishment of the Académie des Sciences to the end of the Old Régime. The research was done on the career of three cartographers: Alexis-Hubert Jaillot, Guillaume Delisle, and Jacques-Nicolas Bellin. They illustrate three different ways a mapmaker could participate in the system of patronage in 17th- and 18th-century France. The three groups are: commercial map-publishers, scientific cartographers, and salaried government professionals.

Bibliographic note

  • Article translated from American by Thomas Klöti, Bern.
  • Based on a paper read at 15th International Conference on the History of Cartography, Chicago, 21 to 25 June 1995.

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