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Fine example of Robert Dudley's chart of the coast of southern Africa, the earliest obtainable sea chart of the general region.
The map covers the area south of the entrance to the Congo River, around the Cape of Good Hope, to Isle Monfin (Mafia Island), off the coast of present-day Tanzania. An inset map depicts the coast of east Africa to Djibouti. Madagascar is fully depicted. Almost no detail is rendered on the interior, which is the case with Dudley's maps, and it is particularly suited to Africa, where, at the time, little about the interior was known with any certainty by Europeans. Natal, Mosabiche, and Angola are named as regions.
At the time this map was published, the Dutch had not yet established themselves at the Cape -- this would come several years later in 1652.
Sir Robert Dudley
Dudley (1573-1649) was a fascinating figure of Elizabethan England. He was an adventurer, explorer, naval engineer, cartographer, and scientist; a true polymath. Dudley was the illegitimate son of the Earl of Leicester, the favorite of Elizabeth I and brother-in-law to Thomas Cavendish. He cut his teeth in the enterprising and exploratory milieu of late-16th century England. He was no stranger to court politics, and his various relationships, marriages, and attempt to claim legitimacy provided closely watched drama in London.
Dudley was constantly backing or participating in exotic adventures. In 1594 he sailed with Sir Francis Drake to Guiana and Trinidad in search of El Dorado. Two years later he received a knighthood for his part in the Earl of Essex's raid on Cadiz. He backed Benjamin Wood's 1596 expedition to Southeast Asia, which ended in a shipwreck on the Burmese coast. Later, he was responsible for one of the only Italian attempts to colonize the New World, when in 1608 he convinced the Duke of Tuscany to send a privateer to Guiana and the northern coast of Brazil.
Dell'Arcano del Mare
This map comes from Sir Robert Dudley's magnum opus, Dell'Arcano del Mare. His work was one of the most important 17th century maritime books, with the sixth part comprising a sea atlas of the entire world. It is noteworthy for being the first such in print, the first of any kind made by an Englishman, and the first to use Mercator's projection. The work was published in Florence in 1645-46. Antonio Francesco Lucini, engraved the maps and stated that the project took him 12 years and over 5,000 pounds of copper to produce the plates. Dudley's maps are characterized by a singular visual style, which was not emulated by any other 17th century chart makers. The printed calligraphy is also exceptional.
Parry, Printing and the Mind of Man:"In the genre of sea charts it is Sir Robert Dudley (1573-1649) who made the greatest impression among the English cartographers of the seventeenth century, particularly in his charting of the East Indian archipelago . . . the first atlas to contain detailed charts of the whole East Indian and Philippine archipelagoes."
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