Get to know the collection as we explore the stories behind the creation of these maps, atlases, and books through our series of videos, podcasts, and virtual reality tours.
The “Blue Map” of the World
An extraordinarily rare cartographic document that is based on research originally presented to the Qianlong emperor by Huang Qianren (fl. 1760- 70) in 1767. The title of the map is as much a political programme of the Qing as it is a geographical record. It shows China at the height of the Qing empire, celebrating the “unified status of all of Chinese borders” (Pegg).
Charting the Unfathomable Sky
A monumental Chinese celestial chart Huntian yitong xingxiang quantu, one of the largest planispheres published during the Qing dynasty (1636-1912). The work combines both Chinese and Western astronomy, highlights the fundamental role that knowledge of the heavens played in Chinese politics, and illustrates the Qing dynasty’s endeavours to seek authentic truth in ancient texts.
“The most important map in American history”
Mitchell’s map is widely regarded as the most important map in American history. Prepared on the eve of the Seven Years’ War (or French and Indian War), it was the second large format map of North America printed by the British (the first being Henry Popple’s map of 1733), and included the most up to date information of the region: “the result of a uniquely successful solicitation of information from the colonies” (Edney). Over the following two hundred years, it would play a significant role in the resolution of every significant dispute involving the northern border of the then British Colonies and in the definition of the borders of the new United States of America.
Nolli’s fine plan of Rome
The finest of the eighteenth century plans of Rome and the first plan of the city based upon geodetic principles.
John Rocque's magnificent map of early Georgian London
Printed on twenty-four sheets of paper and measuring some two by four metres, Rocque’s 1746 map is the first large-scale survey of the cities of London, Westminster, and Southwark.
Incredible in both scale and detail, the plan stretches west to east from Hyde Park to Limehouse and north to south from New River Head to Walworth.
Frieze Viewing Room 2020
For the 2020 online edition of Frieze Masters, we are delighted to dedicate our exhibition to a rarely celebrated art form: the eighteenth century baroque town plan.
The town plans of the eighteenth century reveal developments in urban cartography and reflect a new, planned, shape for the world’s great cities. These ‘new’ cities significantly restructured the historic medieval and Renaissance centres and greatly expanded the built-up area.
‘Baroque’ town planning in European cities answered the needs of the grandiosity demanded by the megalomania and triumphalism of the absolutist monarchies of the time, as well as the demographic changes that had to be faced.
The collection comprises massive wall maps of Amsterdam, Berlin, London, Madrid, New York, Paris, Rome, and Venice.
Charting the course for Queen Victoria’s Royal Yacht
A chart case from the Her Majesty’s Yacht Victoria and Albert (II), containing 284 charts, covering the entire globe, and demonstrating The British Admiralty’s mastery of the seas at the height of the British Empire.
The chart case contains 10 pilots providing detailed charts for navigation from the British Isles to: Africa and the Cape of Good Hope; North America and the West Indies; Australia; China; The East Indies; The Pacific; The English Channel and Ireland; The Mediterranean; The English Channel, North Sea and Baltic; and The South East Coast of South America. Ranging from 30 charts contained in the China pilot to a mere 14 charts in the Africa pilot.
Luis Teixeira’s Magna Orbis Terrarum Nova of 1604
A spectacular wall map of astonishing beauty made at the beginning of the Dutch Golden Age.
The present map draws on the cartography of Luis Teixeira (fl.1564-1613) – whose name appears in the large pasted title – a Portuguese cartographer from a famous mapmaking dynasty. He worked in Lisbon and the Portuguese colonies, but was also a friend of and collaborator with Dutch cartographers, contributing a map of Japan to Abraham Ortelius’ atlas. Ortelius and Cornelis Claesz published five of his maps between them, and all were specifically advertised as based on his work, indicating that he was highly respected in Amsterdam.
The map is based upon a simple cylindrical projection and follows very closely the 1592 wall map drawn by Petrus Plancius, “a milestone in the emergence of Dutch cartography [and] the first large wall map of the world to be published in the north” (Schilder).
A composite atlas of Italy, bound for Louis, Dauphin of France
Louis (1729–1765) was the only surviving son of King Louis XV of France and his wife, Queen Marie Leszczyńska. Son of the king, Louis was styled Fils de France, and as heir apparent, he became Dauphin of France. However, he died before ascending to the throne. Three of his sons became kings of France: Louis XVI (reign: 1774–1792), Louis XVIII (reign: 1814–1815; 1815–1824) and Charles X (reign: 1824–1830).
The atlas covers Italy, Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, and Malta. The maps range in date from 1653-1753, with the majority dating from the first half of the eighteenth century. All but three maps (two by Homann and one by the Spanish cartographer Chafrion) are by the leading French cartographers of the day, these include De Fer, Jaillot, Delisle, Du Val, Le Rouge, and Nolin.
Bernard Ratzer’s plan of New York
“Perhaps the finest map of an American city and its environs produced in the eighteenth century” (Augustyn).
The new plan, first published in 1770, lays out a city of about 25,000 inhabitants and its surrounding farmland. It offers a remarkably accurate view of the streets of lower Manhattan and depicts the farms, roads and topography reaching to approximately present day 50th Street; along with the marshy New Jersey shores of the Hudson; Kennedy, Bucking and Governors Islands; and parts of present day Brooklyn along the East River. The map is paired with an idyllic panoramic view of the city from Governors Island.
First edition of the Scotsman James Bassantin’s (c1500-1568) copiously illustrated, large-format compendium on calculating planetary positions. From the library of Mary, Queen of Scots, bound in Paris with her crowned initial, and with all the illustrations in fine contemporary hand-colour.
Petrus Apianus’ Astronomicum Caesareum
“The most spectacular contribution of the book-maker’s art to sixteenth-century science” from the library of Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna of Russia.