Leen Helmink Antique Maps

Antique map of Asia by Thevet

Stock number: 18733

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André Thevet (biography)



First Published

Paris, 1575

This Edition



34.5 x 43.2 cms




First state (of three) of this exceptionally rare and early landmark map of the region.

Showing "Partie de la Terre Australle", long before its recorded discovery.

André Thevet was a Franciscan monk who traveled extensively in Europe and made a reputed short journey to South America. Upon his return he records that he sailed along the eastern coast of North America. The experiences he recalls of the New World have attracted much criticism from both his contemporaries and recent historians for their inaccuracy. However, one person seemed impressed, the King of France, Henry II, who bestowed upon him the honour of Royal Cosmographer.

This fine map appears in the two issues of La Cosmographie Universelle, by both P. L'Huillier and G. Chaudière. It relies largely on the Mercator model of 1569. The quality of this block is very high and it is a shame that it is not more easily found.

(Burden on the America map from the same publication)


The unobtainable first edition first state of this seminal map. A good imprint of the woodblock. Margins cropped as nearly always. Left and bottom border neatline partly reinstated. Overall a good example of an important map that is quasi impossible to find.

André Thevet (1516-1590)

André Thevet traveled extensively and wrote prolifically. Few sixteenth-century writers covered more territory or wrote more ambitiously. While serious doubt exists as to whether some of the writing published under his name was really his, Thevet remains an important figure in early geographical writing.

Born in Angoulême around 1516, Thevet’s early education was apparently limited; we know little of his early life. Thevet became a Franciscan friar, and his first excursion into the world occurred in about 1550, when he accompanied the Cardinal Jean de Lorraine on travels into Italy and the Mediterranean basin. Shortly thereafter, Thevet published his Cosmographie de Levant, a compendium of facts about the people, places, flora and fauna of the area. The section on the Nile, for example, includes a woodcut depiction of a crocodile (p. 138), something contemporary readers would most likely never have seen. The intriguing illustrations have been attributed to Bernard Salomon.

Thevet's experience as a traveler attracted the attention of Nicolas Durand, Chevalier de Villegagnon, who was preparing to found a colony in what is today Brazil. He asked Thevet to accompany the expedition as its confessor. Thevet fell ill during the voyage and had to return to France after only ten weeks in Brazil. Using his own observations, however, combined with information gained from other travelers, Thevet quickly produced his Singularitez de la France Antarctique. The first edition was published in Paris in 1557.

After the publication of the Singularitez, Thevet received royal recognition and eventually became cosmographer of the Valois court. He began his most ambitious work, the Cosmographie Universelle, which described and defined every part of the known world.

While today Thevet is seen largely as a compiler and editor of experiences that belonged to others, his works, with their extensive descriptions and lavish illustrations, give a broad picture of the historical and geographical knowledge of the sixteenth century.

(University of Virginia Library)