Plan De La Baie De Monterey Situee Dans La Californie Septentrionale…


Date: 1797
Place: Paris
Dimensions: 20 x 14 inches
Condition Rating: VG+

In stock

SKU: NL-02116 Category: Tag:

The earliest acquirable map of the Bay of Monterey.


This gorgeous late 18th-century rendition of the Bay of Monterey by Le Perouse is the earliest obtainable map of this region. The map is oriented north to the left and covers an area that stretches from Carmelo Cove and the Presidio to New Year’s Point (modern Santa Cruz) across the bay. As such, the map includes the full sweeping curve of the coastline and the bay in its entirety.

Waterways, trees, and sand dunes have all been drawn meticulously onto the map, whereas the hinterland’s topographic relief is shown in finely graded hachure. The coastal mountains, labeled after the Spanish name ‘Montagnes Ste Lucie’ (after the catholic saint whose martyrdom is celebrated each year on December 13th), form the bay’s dramatic backdrop. In the bay’s southern end, several additional places have been labeled. The chart maker plots the Mission of St. Charles, Cypress Point, and the anchorage fronting the Presidio onto the map.


Context is Everything

The map represents the published result of an expedition captained by the great French explorer Jean-Francois de Galoup, Comte de La Perouse. Between 1785 and 1788, he commanded an expedition to the still largely unknown Pacific. The goal was to complete the exploration and mapping of the Western Pacific, which had been set and almost accomplished by the illustrious Captain James Cook on this third voyage. La Perouse was recognized as one of France’s best naval commanders and was consequently selected for the job by King Louis XVI himself.

La Perouse first explored the coasts of Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, partly searching for the fabled Northwest Passage. Among his briefs was also the determination of correct longitudes, and the British Admiralty had supplied the French expedition with their data and instruments to solve this lingering problem.

After leaving the Bay of Monterey, the expeditionary force crossed the Pacific to reach the Philippines. From here, they continued to the Asian mainland, where the entire coastal stretch from Macao to Kamchatka was investigated. Returning south, La Perouse sailed on the remote Solomon Islands. The last time anyone heard of the expedition was in Australia’s Botany Bay, where a British ship was provided copies of their records and packaged materials to be returned to Paris. This was in the spring of 1788, a year and a half after the anchorage at Monterey Bay. After that, the expedition was never heard from again.

La Perouse’s voyage is still considered one of history’s most remarkable feats of exploration. Part of the reason it is so celebrated is that despite the expedition’s disappearance, much of the information they had accumulated over the course of their journey was saved through a meticulous practice of copying records and sending these copies back to France whenever the opportunity presented itself. This was the only reason this excellent early Monterey Bay map survived.


La Pérouse, Jean François de Galaup de

Jean François de Galaup, comte de Lapérouse (23 August 1741 – 1788 ca.) was a French Naval officer and explorer whose famous expedition vanished in Oceania. His naval career began when he entered the French Navy college in Brest at the age of fifteen. Over the years, he participated in various naval campaigns, among other things, earning the esteemed rank of Commodore for his victory over the English frigate ARIEL in the West Indies. He also played a significant role in the Battle of the Saintes and gained recognition by capturing two English forts along the coast of Hudson Bay.

In 1785, La Perouse was appointed to lead an expedition around the world by Louis XVI and his Secretary of the Navy, the Marquis de Castries. The aims of the expedition were quite ambitious, intending to sail and map regions such as Chile, Hawaii, Alaska, California, East Asia, Japan, Russia, Australia, and the South Pacific. The entire expedition vanished mysteriously after leaving New South Wales in March 1788. They were en route to New Caledonia, the Solomons, and the western and southern coasts of Australia. No member of the expedition was ever heard from again.

Condition Description

Excellent. Nice, wide margins.