Nouvelle Carte de L’Isle de Malthe, 1718 by French pilots Laurent Bremont and Henri Michelot is a sea chart which represents the Maltese Islands namely Malta, Gozo and Comino. This decorative chart formed part of an atlas which included sixteen charts and three plates of ships that represent the various coastlines and islands around the Mediterranean (Appendix A). The atlas, titled Recueil de Plans et Ports de la Méditerranée, is dedicated to Chevalier Jean Philippe d’Orléans (1702-1748) who is identified by the inscriptions on the cartouches of each map, which evolved throughout the years (fig. 2). The cartouche, top left of Our map, dated 1718, reads:
NOUVELLE CARTE DE L’ISLE DE MALTHE
DEDIÉE A MONSEIGNEUR
LE CHEVALIER D’ORLEANS GENERAL DE GALERES DE FRANCE
Par ces tres humbles serviteurs MICHELOT Pilote Real et Hydrographe des Galeres du Roy et BREMONT Hydrographe du Roy
et de la Ville Avec privilege du Roy 1718
Translation: New map / of the Maltese Islands / dedicated to Monseigneur / Chevalier d’Orleans / General of the Galleys of France / — / By the humble servants Michelot Royal Pilot / and Hydrographer of the Galleys of the King / and Bremont Royal Hydrographer to the King / and the City / With privilege of the King / 1718.
The cartouche is exquisitely decorated with four nude figures who represent captured Muslim slaves accompanied by other war-related symbolism such as polearms, canons, shields and flags (fig. 3). It is crowned with the coat of arms of Chev. d’Orleans, which has a number of symbols that help us identify his various titles. It is immediately clear from both the red and white cross (at the top of the field) as well as the eight-pointed cross (which both supports and hangs from the bottom of the shield) that a strong association between him and the Knights of St. John existed. It is known that Chev. d’Orleans was made Grand Prior of the Knights of St. John in 1719. He was also General of the French Galleys which is indicated by the anchor at the base of the shield. The shield is topped by a French crown a symbol used to denote a prince du sang (prince of blood) and indeed d’Orleans was the son of the Duke of Orleans, Philippe II . The rest of the field is decorated with his family crest which includes three fleur-de-lis, denoting his French royalty, a label with three points and a baton in the centre of the field. Both charges do not appear to have any particular significance in this context.
It might be safe to deduce that the atlas was a popular one due to the fact that it was re-issued twice. Once in 1730 and later in 1802 when it was re-issued in English as The New Mediterranean Pilot by William Heather.  Despite the map’s popularity, very little is known about Laurent Bremond and he is rarely mentioned in the literature about maps. An inscription at the bottom of the map reads:
Sevendent a Marseille chez Laurens Bremond sur le Port au coin de Reboul
Translation: Sold in Marseille at Laurent Bremond’s in the port at the corner of Reboul.
Which seems to suggest that Laurent Bremond owned some sort of commercial outlet in the town of Reboul from which he would sell and distribute maps. The information provided on the cartouche indicates that he was a royal hydrographer and pilot. More is known about the other pilot, Henri Michelot who seems to have been the more important and successful figure of the two. The cartouche mentions that he was also a royal hydrographer and pilot. The first maps he produced are dated to the late seventeenth century. The map was engraved by engraver P. Starckman, of which very little is known about.
On the bottom right-hand side of the map there are two scales which read (fig. 4): ECHELLE DE 2 LIEUES DE FRANCE A 20 PAR DEGRE ECHELLE DE 8 MILLES D’ITALIE ET DE PROVENCE A 15 PAR DEGRE
Translation: Scale of 2 Leagues of France at 20 per degree / Scale of 8 Miles of Italy and Provence at 15 per degree.
Which proves that the map was designed to be disseminated among a wide audience with different needs. The map provides the reader with a great analysis of the islands’ basic topography, key landmarks and churches along with an extensive survey of fortifications and coastal features. In total, the map of Malta includes 44 ‘villages’ which each seem to feature a parish church and 37 fortifications, batteries and towers (excluding defence walls); in Gozo one can note 6 forts, batteries and towers (excluding defence walls) and 23 villages-these curiously do not have the standard chapel-town ideogram used on the island of Malta (Appendix B). The key at the bottom left-hand corner of the chart aptly titled ‘Explication des Bateries’,
Figure. 5 Detail from Nouvelle Carte de L’Isle de Malthe showing the key titled ‘Explication des Bateries (bottom left register)
(Translation: Legend for the Fortifications) helps the reader navigate the map’s symbols.
The key outlines the following elements which are featured throughout the chart (fig. 5):
Nouvelles RedouTtes / Nouvelles Batteries } pour
defandre la Dessante
PetiTTES plages de Sables ou l’on peut se debarquer
Les Ancres marquent les mouillages
Et les Chiffres la profondeur d’Eau quil y a en brasses
Translation: New Redoubts/ New Batteries – To defend the descent/ Small beaches of Sands where one can disembark/ The Anchors mark anchorages/ And the figures the depth of water that there is in fathoms.
As the key explains, there are numbers which indicate the various depths around the coastline in Brasses (fathoms), as well as landing places which are marked by dotted waters. Other interesting places apart from the fortifications and ports, such as the islands of Filfla and Manoel; the seventeenth century Wignacourt aqueduct and Verdala Palace (represented as ‘Jardin du Grand Maitre au Monte Verdalle’).
The map itself also includes an inset in the top right corner of the chart titled ‘Plan des ports de Malthe’ (Translation: Map of the Ports in Malta) which represents the Greater Valletta area, including the three cities and Manoel Island (fig. 6). Here, close attention is paid to representing the military architecture which includes Fort Manoel among other structures. As mentioned above, the atlas was reproduced on numerous occasions and its influence can also be gauged by the fact that map maker Joseph Roux used the inset as inspiration for his own representation of the same area on numerous occasions.
Figure. 6 Detail from Nouvelle Carte de L’Isle de Malthe showing the Inset which portrays the Greater Valletta Area (top right of the Map)
The language used in identifying locations on the map itself is also worthy of mention. Old Maltese place-names form a fascinating study, and in the present map we find use of several place-names of Arabic origin which are reproduced on the map in their Latin orthographical rendering, for example, Khandac rumien for Hondoq ir-Rummien. These are intermingled with place-names of Italian origin, for example, Cita Vechia for Mdina, as well as, locations written in French, for example, Jardin du Grand Maitre au Monte Verdalle, for Buskett, which is, of course, to be expected in a map published in a French atlas. These linguistic variations are very much a reflection of the context and the time in which map was produced, and one should also keep in mind that in the early eighteenth century the Maltese language had not yet established itself with its own identity and its own orthography.
Not unique to maps and their prints are the standard elements of the compass rose, sea monster and the hand-colouring finish. The compass rose being partially instructive and decorative would serve to aid captains navigate whilst out at sea thanks to their northward orientation, whilst as a decorative element, this symbol also serves to replicate the recurring themes of the fleur-de-lis (indicating north) and the eight-pointed cross of the Knights of St. John at the centre of the design. Rhumb lines emanate from the compasses and served as a guide for the ships (fig. 7).
The imaginative sea monster in the upper register of the chart contains no meaning, however as a decorative device it serves to fill in space that might not be so appealing if left blank, especially in such a decorative map (fig. 7). In fact, it was not uncommon for cartographers to include imagined decorative elements in maps to fill unknown space, particularly before the nineteenth century. Curiously, this sea creature does not feature in the other maps which would have formed part of the complete atlas (Appendix A).
Figure. 7 Detail from Nouvelle Carte de L’Isle de Malthe showing the Compass Rose, Sea Monster and Rhumb Lines
The last feature not uncommon to such maps and prints is the later hand-colouring. Other recorded impressions of the same map are both coloured and uncoloured (Appendix A). Colour added after the map’s completion date is common practice in the world of antique charts and should not be cause for alarm.  One slight issue concerns the colourist’s choice of colours for the Chev. d’Orleans coat of arms; instead of the blue background which should have been used, our colourist chose red (fig. 8)- nonetheless, great attention and a high level of sensitivity have been applied whilst doing this in order to not obscure the appreciation of the original design.
Figure. 8 Coat of Arms of Chev. D’Orleans showing the use of blue in the background rather than red
An analysis of this map points to it being in a very good condition. The plate marks of the original engraving are visible on the soft paper and tell of a high-quality plate with not many signs of wear or excessive use as seen from the sharp and crisp render. The paper too is in good condition. There are no tears or extensive areas of foxing and only slight discolouration consistent with ageing. Since the map was taken from an atlas it has a single fold-line which runs through the centre of the paper; not an uncommon feature in antique charts of its kind.
Due to the print’s good condition it requires no immediate restorative intervention. Artemisia always recommends minimal intervention and always advocates reversible, professional methods of restoration. In this case we strongly recommend preventative measures as part of proper conservation where possible. Additionally, we advise for the map to be exhibited inside a controlled environment which receives minimal sunlight and is cleaned infrequently. Cleaning should only be carried out gently with a dry feather duster.