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Personal and Historical Artifacts from the Life of Walt Disney at Van Eaton Galleries

Los Angeles, California - Van Eaton Galleries, one of the world’s premier animation artwork... read more

"Birds of America" Sells for $9.65 Million, Leads Christie’s Spring Sale of Books & Manuscripts

New York - Christie’s New York Books and Manuscripts sales total $12,853,250, across the... read more

A Celebration of Robert Osborne is 100% Sold at Bonhams

New York—On June 13, the sale of Bonhams and TCM Present ... A Celebration... read more

Make Way for the Illustrations of Robert McCloskey 
at the Cincinnati Art Museum Starting July 20

Cincinnati, OH — The Cincinnati Art Museum is proud to celebrate Hamilton, Ohio’s own... read more

Trove of Bonnie & Clyde Photographs to be Auctioned on July 11

Belton, Missouri - The legend of Bonnie and Clyde may have to be rewritten... read more

First Exhibition on Winslow Homer's Use of Photography at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Summer 2018

Brunswick, Maine — This summer the Bowdoin College Museum of Art (BCMA) will present... read more

A Collection of Modern Prints at Bruneau & Co.'s Eclectic Sale on June 23

Cranston, Rhode Island - A pair of outstanding Rhode Island collections - one of... read more

Bird's Eye View: Maps & Natural History Soar at Swann

New York—Swann Galleries’ auction of Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books... read more

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Fine Maps

French Models

This model of Embrun was built in 1701 at the beginning of the War of Spanish Succession. Some of Louis XIV’s models were re-painted a uniform military gray as part of a misguided early twentieth-century restoration effort. Credit: A. Lonchampt, Centre des Monuments Nationaux, ALC 80/545.
Model building as depicted by the famous seventeenth-century French military theoretician, Alain Manesson Mallet. Credit: Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto.
Side view of a typical model table showing the plank frame that was used to simulate large changes in the surface topography. A final layer of plaster covers the planks and was molded and colored to represent more subtle details in the landscape. Credit: Library and Archives Canada, C-14449.
The king and his advisors consult the model of Maestricht in the Grande Galerie of the Louvre in this 1753 print. The French captured the city from the Dutch in 1673 and again in 1748. Credit: Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, Paris, B92/113.

Louis XIV kept his “princely toys” locked away in the Louvre; Louis XV continued to augment the collection and appointed a curator; and Louis XVI ordered it transferred to new quarters at the Hôtel des Invalides in Paris, where it remains to this day. When the Paris Universal Exhibition opened in 1867, the model gallery became available to the public. By 1927, when it was obvious that several models had been lost or damaged, the French government took the unprecedented move of protecting the collection by declaring it an historic monument.

Today, Louis XIV’s collection is unique both in terms of its extent and its attention to detail. The collection stands as a testament to the ingenuity of early French mapmakers and their tremendous efforts to render a true likeness of French military might for their king. Gazing on these once vital tools of conquest, it is easy to be transfixed by the marvelous aerial views they offer of mighty fortifications and humble homes. Just as the realism helped Louis XIV envision the wonders of his kingdom, we too can marvel at these royal treasures and, with a little imagination, walk the same streets where kings and commoners alike once strode.

Jeffrey Murray is a former senior archivist with Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, Canada, and author of Terra Nostra: The Stories Behind Canada’s Maps, 1550-1950 (Montreal, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2006).
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