A Plan of Quebec. Edward / ROCQUE OAKLEY, John.
Architectural Practice and British Cartography in 18th-Century London
Edward Oakley’s Broadside Plan of Quebec City
[Architectural Practice] / [Urban Planning] / [Cartography] / [Quebec].
London, published by Oakley and sold by Rocque, October 1759, 1759.

A Plan of Quebec.

Folio broadside [37.0 x 53.5 cm], copper engraving with original full hand color. Engraving crisp, color fresh and vibrant, small professional restoration to upper left corner outside of platemark, old discreet vertical fold through center), contemporary manuscript numeration (“109”) in bottom right margin.

Rare, separately issued plan of Quebec City, here in fine original hand color, published in London in 1759 by the prominent architect Edward Oakley (fl. 1730-66), an intriguing figure whose varied practical and theoretical roles in the London architectural world provide a glimpse into the diversity of professional building practice at the time. Commercial cartography is not often associated with established architects, but the present plan shows that Oakley was comfortable using his skills as an urban planner, builder and surveyor to produce timely city plans he hoped would find buyers. The present broadside, for example, was printed in October 1759, just weeks after the British had taken Quebec City, but before news of the event had reached Britain. The conquest of Quebec marked the apex of the Seven Years’ War (1756-63), a global struggle between Britain and France to establish which would become the dominant international empire. Britain’s principal objective in the Americas was to capture New France, of which Quebec City was the key target. The British public naturally were attentive to such developments, and Oakley helped them visualize contested cities in distant arenas of conflict.

Edward Oakley is best remembered for The Magazine of Architecture, Perspective and Sculpture: in Five Parts (London, 1730), as well as his practical treatise, Every Man a Compleat Builder, or, Easy rules and proportions for drawing and working the several parts of Architecture (London, 1766). At the end of his preface to The Magazine of Architecture, Oakley provides a revealing account of the architectural services he could provide: “Estates survey’d, Designs made, and Estimates calculated, for Building or Repairs; Articles and Contracts for Agreements with Workmen fairly drawn; Artificers Works inspected, measured, and Bills adjusted: And all Affairs relating to Building carefully managed, By Edward Oakley.” His most prominent architectural project was his work for Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753) at the Chelsea Physic Garden, where he provided designs for the arcaded Orangery or conservatory, with a library, committee room for the gardener and Director above, all flanked by heated greenhouses (built 1732-4) (see P. Hunting, pp. 15-16). That he did not shy away from more mundane work is attested by a surviving example of his urban surveying done for legal purposes, a plan of tenements being sold in 1735 on Great Shire Lane, Temple Bar (British Library, Maps Crace IX, no. 145).

Oakley was also a strong advocate of the creation of London’s Blackfriars Bridge (constructed between 1760 and 1769), issuing The Expedience, Utility, and Necessity of a New Bridge, at or near Blackfryars (London, 1756). He was a friend of John Rocque (c. 1709-62), the prominent Huguenot cartographer and engraver, who is best known for his monumental map of London (1746). With Rocque’s support, Oakley published plans of French cities including Calais (1750), Thionville (1753), Metz (1754), Rochefort (1757), Brest (1757), Dunkirk (n.d.), and the present Quebec City plan.

This colorful and detailed plan of Quebec City shows the city perched upon the promontory of Cap Diamant, where the St. Lawrence River narrows before opening to its maritime estuary. Depicted and labeled here are both the “Lower Town,” Quebec’s commercial center, and to the west the walled government center of the “Upper Town,” which features the city’s official civil and ecclesiastic buildings, as well as its finest private residences. Inset in the upper left, “The Port & Environs of Quebec, as it was when Attack’d by the English,” depicts Phipps’s squadron of 34 ships during their abortive mission of 1690. The inset in the upper right, “A Draught of the port of the River St. Laurence” depicts the greater area, including the maritime approaches to the city around the Ile d’Orléans.

The relatively detailed text in the left part of the broadside features notes on the geography, history and economy of Quebec City (founded in 1608) and New France. Notably, it also lends a fine summary of the several British attacks upon Quebec City, which occurred from 1629 to 1746. These missions included Sir David Kirks’s successful seizure of the town in 1629 (although Quebec was returned to France in 1632); Sir William Phipps’ siege of Quebec of 1690, famously repelled by Governor Frontenac; the unsuccessful 1711 attempt to take the city mounted by Hovenden Walker and John Hill; and Admiral Richard Lestock’s disastrous expedition of 1746.

The present example of the broadside represents the second (of two) states of the production. The first state was issued in January 1759, and is identical to the second state, except that the latter changed the publication date in the imprint (from January to October 1759) and adds the inset “A Draught of the port of the River St. Laurence” in the upper right.

Like most 18th-century broadsides, which have a very low survival rate, both states of Oakley’s Quebec map are today rare. We know of only 3 other examples of the second state, and only a single example of the first state appearing on the market during the last 20 years.

*Kershaw, Early Printed Maps of Canada, vol. 4, no. 1062, plate 82; Stevens & Tree, 72b.; P. Hunting, “Isaac Rand and the Apothecaries’ Physic Garden at Chelsea,” Garden History, vol. 30, no. 1 (2002), pp. 1-23; H. Colvin, A. Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600-1840, 4th ed., pp. 755-56; E. Harris, British Architectural Books and Writers 1556-1786, pp. 334-36; Tooley’s Dictionary of Mapmakers, vol. 2, p. 341.

 

Price: $2,650.00

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