Nouveau Plan de la Ville d'Angers...
LOUIS SIMON DES GRANGES
A beautiful wall map of the city of Angers, France originally published in 1736 by Louis Simon des Granges. The Nouveau Plan d’Angers was re-issued from the original plates found in the city archives of Angers in 1882 by the publishing house of Lachèse and Dolbeau.
This fascinating map is adorned by two cartouches, as well as insert views of Angers from the Bamette coast and a map of Angers and the surrounding areas. Inserts also include those of Le Chateau d’Angers, The Saint Maurice Cathedral, The Benedictine Abbeys of Le Ronceray, Saint Serge and Saint Nicolas, the City Hall, and finally indexes of the different buildings and parishes found in the city.
The plan, conceived and approved by the city council on August 22, 1733 to provide a city plan similar to those of Paris, is dedicated to the Maire of Angers, Germain Francois Poulain de la Guerche. It is important to note that the map, similar to that published by Michel-Étinene Turgot in his famous Plan de Paris of 1739, provides a bird’s eye view, of one of France’s great urban centres. However, whereas Turgot uses an isometric perspective to draw the city of Paris, Simon drew a more commonly used geometric plan.
Angers, the former capital of the old province of Anjou, is situated by the River Maine in the Loire Valley, and was, along with Paris, Rouen, Bordeaux, Toulouse and Marseille, a major population centre, in Europe’s most populated Kingdom under the Bourbon monarchy of Louis XV. However, Angers which at one time had a population that numbered between 30,000 to 35,000 in the mid 1600’s, was in the midst of a demographic decline due to economic stagnation when this map was first commissioned. This economic stagnation most likely resulted from the outbreak of the Fronde, a series of civil wars, that ushered in an absolute monarchy at the expense of economic development. Ultimately this economic stagnation would lead to the French Revolution a half century later.
A further element that is interesting with these city plans, whether they be geometric plans, such as Simon’s plan of Angers, or Turgot’s isometric plan of Paris, is that the perspective used to depict the city plans are done without aerial assistance. The first hot air balloon flight only occurred in 1783, some 40 to 50 years after the publication of these great city plans.
These city plans, such as Simon’s Nouveau Plan de la Ville d’Angers thus offers viewers not only beautiful depictions of important urban centres of Europe, but they also act as testaments to the dedication by these cartographers to their craft.
(Sources: Port, C. Dictionnaire historique: géographique, et biographique de Maine…)