In 1734 Michel-Etienne Turgot, the Prévôt des Marchands of Paris, got “professor of perspective” Louis Bretez to walk around for two years and sketch facades, orchards, libraries, hospitals, cathedrals, whatever flattered the city.
Royal Academy of Sciences engraver Claude Lucas and his assistants carved Bretez’s drawings into 21 brass plates.
In 1739, five years after Turgot commissioned the map, prints made from Lucas’s engravings were bound and presented to King Louis XV and members of the Royal Academy of Sciences. The books are still floating around libraries; the plates live in the Louvre.
The tiled plates make an enormous and detailed birds-eye map. Every inch of this 4x6-foot illuminated reproduction is beautiful. The quotidian and grand were engraved with the same care; market gardens and single trees got just as much attention as Notre-Dame.
Southeast is up, so the left and right banks are switched. I couldn’t tell you why. Also the Seine is clogged with boats and the roads are completely empty; a prettier kinda commerce?
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