Mr. Vignaud's Maps: Unraveling a Cartographic Mystery from the Golden Age of Dutch Cartography
Composite Atlas of France (RC)
Arguably the most distinct collection of maps to come from this project was the group colloquially referred to as “Red Chalk” or formally entitled The Composite Atlas of France. A composite atlas, this compilation is composed of approximately 35 maps depicting regions of France (Galliae).
Composite atlases were not unusual in the 17th century, as patrons often commissioned atlases where the contents and collation were determined by the patron. Similarly, maps were occasionally bound into temporary bindings and at a later date removed and bound again into a permanent volume. As such, a variety of maps would be used in the volume, including maps from many different publishers.
In this case, the atlas contains works by Jodocus and Henricus Hondius, and French cartographers Damien de Templeux, Jean Le Clerc, and Maurice Bouguereau, among others. The diversity of maps and publishers makes it difficult to determine publisher and publication date. It also means that an official title for the volume is not known. The title for this volume was created by the Clark Library to represent this unique compilation.
The most distinct feature of this particular composite atlas is the collection of red chalk drawings found on the verso of the maps. There are several factors that suggest the maps were bound together and at a later date an unknown individual or individuals used the blank versos to practice their penmanship and drawing skills.
The profiles and figures found on many of the versos feature Roman noses, which were characteristic of the 18th century. Given the orientation and the manner of drawings, it suggests that the maps were drawn upon while they were still bound.
Also, the transference of red chalk to other maps indicated that these maps were stored together after the chalk was applied. Additionally, corresponding wormholes in the upper right and left corners of several of the maps indicate that the maps were bound at that time. The depth of the holes also helps to indicate the sequence of the maps at the time.