a fine copy of the first printed atlas of russia. “Joseph Nicolas Delisle, brother of Guillaume Delisle, was invited by Peter the Great to survey the vast empire of Imperial Russia. Initially accompanied by his step-brother Louis, in 1726 the two Parisians journeyed to Russia (now under the reign of Catherine I) to start their surveys” (Shirley).
At first, Delisle also worked with Ivan Kirilov, with whom he co-founded the St Petersburg Academy of Sciences. However, the two men did not always see eye to eye, and Kirilov went on to produce an incomplete atlas published in 1734 before the French team had finished their surveys. Kirilov died in 1737, eight years before the eventual publication of Delisle’s atlas.
The Atlas russicus (as it is generally known) is effectively in two parts: the first covering European Russia in thirteen sheets (at a uniform scale of 1:1,527,000), the second covering Siberia in six sheets (at a uniform scale of 1:3,360,000). Almost every map is based on a system of astronomically determined points or on the sides of geodetically computed triangles.
On publication in 1745, Russian cartography came of age: Delisle’s own contribution was considerable, for he trained many of the surveyors and geodesists himself. Even so, his contract with the Academy was not renewed, and Delisle left St Petersburg in 1747. The Atlas russicus was also published with the introductory text in Russian or German.
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