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Cartography as Art and Science: Towards a More Scientific Cartography

Cartography as Art and Science: Towards a More Scientific Cartography

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Rigobert Bonne was a significant cartographer in the 18th century. He served as official Hydrographer to the French Depôt de la Marine starting in 1773, mostly producing marine charts with a focus on coastal regions. The scientific trend in maps, which occurred gradually from the 16th to 18th centuries and was spearheaded by French cartographers, can be seen in Bonne’s works. The scientific trend manifested in the following ways:

  1. Cartouches, compass roses, and sea monsters were used less.
  2. Panoramic vistas were replaced by vertical bird’s-eye views.
  3. Topographical features were displayed with shading, hachuring, and eventually contour lines.
  4. Maps were increasingly oriented towards the north rather than the east.
  5. Signs, letters, and numbers were used to label sites and landscape details.

Note the numerical scales at the bottom of this map. The icons detailed in the upper left indicate royal cities, Levitical cities, and “refuges.” The map was engraved on copperplate and the outlines were later hand-colored.



Advent of the Printing Press
17th Century
Towards a More Scientific Cartography
Map Listing


Judaea Seu Duodecim Tribus Israelis. A Rto Bonne, Primario Hydrographo Navali.
by Rigobert Bonne
from Atlas Encyclopédique
Paris: Rigobert Bonne and Demarest Nicolas, 1787, no. 3
Muriel Yale Collection, 1998-061