A fantastic bird’s-eye-view of the Nile River, with the Suez Canal, railroads, and pyramids.

Il Nilo dal Mediterraneo al Sudan

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SKU: NL-01232 Categories: , Tag:
Date: ca. 1875
Place: Milan
Dimensions: 50 x 75 cm (19.7 x 29.5 in)
Condition Rating: VG
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Nice Italian bird’s-eye-view, taken from an imaginary point high above the Mediterranean and looking south. The scope of the depicted area stretches north-south from Rosetta to Khartoum and east-west from the Red Sea to the deserts of Libya. The artistic combination of colors and shading casts light on the natural geography and topography in a way that a traditional “two-dimensional” map cannot. We see, for example, how the Nile Delta meets the Mediterranean, or the mountainous topography of the Sinai Peninsula, including Mt. Sinai itself, or the jagged peaks and valleys of Abyssinia.

Complimenting the natural landscape is the cultural one, with illustrations of cities, train lines, and steamships. The cities are each drawn individually, making the map an important snapshot of the urban character of late 19th century Egypt. This pictorial aspect allows the viewer to get lost in the details, giving a sense of feel for what we are seeing, whether it be the cosmopolitan port of Alexandria with its lighthouse, the messy, bustling capital of Cairo, or smaller towns with a single mosque.

But the star of the view is of course the majestic Nile River, and the orientation places Upper Egypt at the top. From the convergence of the Blue and White Nile at Khartoum, we travel downriver past cataracts, villages, oases, and archaeological sites. The river widens as it reaches Asyut, and the mapmaker has placed a mix of ships here, not just the traditional Egyptian dhow, but more modern cruisers as well. At last, we approach Cairo, but not before passing the famous pyramids and Great Sphinx at Giza.

Finally, the map features four insets: town plans of Khartoum and the two Red Sea port cities of Massaua and Suakim, along with a small political map of Africa. No date is given, but a general range is understood by the presence of the Suez Canal (complete 1869) and British Cape Colony in the Africa map (ended 1910). We have refined our estimate to the mid-1870s, based on the extent of the railway system depicted on the map, which is still relatively limited.


Antonio Vallardi Editore

Antonio Vallardi Editore is a publishing house based in Milan.

Condition Description

Some discoloration and minor loss along fold lines.