LE GLOBE TERRESTRE REPRESENTÉ EN DEUX PLANS-HEMISPHERES,
Map by Jean Baptiste Nolin (1657-1708)
Engraving and hand colouring on paper,
Re-print published in 1775
© Sotheby's London, 14 November 2017, lot 23
Jesus began to reproach the towns
Jesus began to reproach the towns in which most of his miracles had been worked, because they refused to repent.
'Alas for you, Chorazin! Alas for you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. And still, I tell you that it will not go as hard on Judgement day with Tyre and Sidon as with you. And as for you, Capernaum, did you want to be exalted as high as heaven? You shall be thrown down to hell. For if the miracles done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have been standing yet. And still, I tell you that it will not go as hard with the land of Sodom on Judgement day as with you.'
Reflection on the Cartography, Engraved Map
Not only are we as individuals called to conversion by Jesus, but whole societies are urgently called to become more just and more equal. As individuals we are all part of the texture of society and hence we cannot live our faith on our own. Whatever we do or think, or however we act, it affects other people around us. We are citizens, part of a larger whole. The harsh language Jesus uses in our Gospel reading of today, where He condemns some of the towns and their societies, demonstrates that whilst God never tires of revealing His power and showing mercy to us, we as a society remain free to accept His message or not.
Following yesterday's German sword, we stay in the 18th century with this beautiful world map published in Paris in 1775. It is a large, hand-coloured and engraved twin-hemispherical wall-map set within 16 small pictorial vignettes depicting events from history relating to some of the places on the map. This is French cartography at its best. We can see cities mentioned. Cities which now would also probably get rebuked by Christ for not accepting His message. And then other areas on these maps have strong, growing and thriving Christian populations. It is one world, but a divided one in its commitment towards the Christian faith.
Just as a little aside, when Jean Baptiste Nolin published this map, he was accused of plagiarism. He was found copying both the shape of California (depicting it as a peninsula rather than an island) and the mouth of the Mississippi River, from a manuscript globe by Guillaume Delisle, which he had been working on since 1697. A six-year trial followed, where Nolin denied these accusations. Nolin was finally convicted and was ordered to stop producing this map…
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