Bellin’s map of the vicinity of Canton

By BELLIN, Jacques Nicolas, 1756 

Carte de l’Entree de la Riviere de Canton dans la Chine.

Asia China
  • Author: BELLIN, Jacques Nicolas
  • Publication place: Paris
  • Publication date: 1756.
  • Physical description: Engraved map.
  • Inventory reference: 16390


A fine example of Bellin’s map depicts the mouth of the River Canton, including Macao, Shenzhen, Guangzhou (historically called Canton) and the region that would eventually become Hong Kong.

The islands are depicted with beautifully rendered coastlines. Depth soundings are included along the channel (Shizi Ocean) and several place names noted. The Island of Macao shows elevations with Macao City identified. Near the top, Guangzhou (Quang Tchew-Fu Canton) is shown surrounded with forts and divided into Ville des Tartares and de Chinois. Shenzhen (Sinn-gan-hein) is identified with a small island to its west (possibly Lantau Island).

Jacques-Nicolas Bellin the elder (1703–1772) joined the Dépôt des Cartes et Plans de la Marine” in 1721, at the age of 18, one year after it had been established, as the first Ingénieur hydrographe de la Marine”, a post he held until his death in 1772.

Bellin’s output was enormous, and his maps were copied throughout Europe for decades. In addition to the maps included in the Histoire des Voyages’, he produced, among other works, Le Neptune Françoise’ (1755) and Le Petit Atlas Français’ (1763), reissued as Le Petit Atlas Maritime’ in 1764.