Mapping New England for the first time  - LA NUOVA FRANCIA by Giacomo Gastaldi in 1565

Mapping New England for the first time - LA NUOVA FRANCIA by Giacomo Gastaldi in 1565

La Nuova Francia - Giacomo Gastaldi - Venice - 1565 - Woodblock - Print (S3-1)

Created by the Italian cartographer, Giacomo Gastaldi in 1565 and published by the Venetian editor Ramusio, this map reports Verrazzano’s voyage of 1524. La Nuova Francia or The New France depicts the North Atlantic coastline spanning from New York to Labrador. It is the first time New England is displayed and the first time it is named New France. The French did not pursue further exploration for another 50 or so years and thus upon their return many things had evolved making the voyages of Verrazzano and Cartier an obsolete source of geographic information, yet a beautiful work of art.

This copy can be found in the “Terzo Volume Delle Navigationi et Viaggi” (raccolto gia da M. Gio. Battista Ramusio) or the “Third Volume of the Navigation and Voyages”. An intellectual man with a passion for geography is what led Giovanni Battista Ramusio to begin his travel writings. Known for this passion he was privy to the insightful, first-hand knowledge attained by explorers upon their return to Italy, such as Verrazzano and Cartier. Ramusio used his fluency in multiple languages to compile and translate an array of reports into an Italian book comprising the intimate stories of explorers’ travels paired with images, such as Giacomo Gastaldi’s map from 1548, La Nuova Francia.

The idea behind a book of this kind was unique and became very popular as can be seen through the multiple publications. This map is second state, which can be evidenced through the pagination and the addition of weeping willow trees. Due to a fire, the second manuscript was destroyed and thus the third volume was actually the second book printed in 1565.

Mainly based on the voyages of Verazzano and Cartier to the Hudson and St. Lawrence rivers, this map shows an extremely primitive and unexplored land. Most of the identified places on this map have subsequently been conferred new names. For example: modern day New York Harbour was titled Angoulesme, Newport Bay was Port Real, Narragansett Bay was Port du Refuge, Long Island (which was then thought by Verrazzano to be a peninsula) was Flora, and Block Island was formerly Brisa.

Since Europeans were yet to explore the Lake Champlain corridor between the Hudson and St. Lawrence rivers the mapping was based on previous chartings produced by Native Americans. The Native Americans had marked their maps with waterways upon which they canoed as well as rivers and thus the Europeans mistakenly portrayed the St. Lawrence River and the Hudson River as being connected.

When mapping new lands, cartographers were faced with the challenge of mapping ‘terra incognita’ (unknown lands). They would use this space to portray further information about the geography of the land; such as, the vegetation, the animals, the indigenous people, the seas, etc., as can be seen here. This map was essential to the ease of subsequent exploration, mapping, and settlement of the region.

La Nuova Francia.
Upper Left:424. Upper Right: 425.
Author: Giovanni Battista Ramusio
Source / Publication: Terzo Volume delle Navigationi e Viaggi. (edition 2)
Place of Publication: Florence
Date: 1565
Volume: 3, edition 2
Page Number: 424-425
Artist: Giacomo Gastaldi
Paper Dimensions: 11 7/8 x 16 1/4 inches.
Medium: Woodcut
Language: Italian
Coloured: Black and White
Condition: The print is in very good condition with what appears to be a water mark on the left side, as well as a small tear on the bottom left, and there is very minor wear through the center where the pages connect, which has been previously repaired.
References: Cohen and Augustyn, Manhattan in Maps, p. 18. Burden 25; Augustyn & Cohen p.18; McCorckle 556.1; Kershaw 15b; Verner & Stuart-Stubbs 2; Goss 8; Suarez 26; Potter p.241.
Keywords: New France, Nouvelle France, New England, Terra Nova, New lands, land, Terra incognita, unknown lands, Isola de Mont, Ostra, Ponenete, Umbega, boats, ships, antique print, Gastaldi, Sea creatures, sea serpents, Levante, Tramontana, Terra de Labrador, labrador, sea, ocean, serpent, serpents, creatures, Natives, First Maps of America,
Price: US$4,250
Identification Number: S3-1