Henry Chatelain (Quebec I)

Henry Abraham Chatelain (1684-1743) published Atlas Historique at a time when the general public in Europe was becoming increasingly-fascinated with the peoples and places of the distant parts of the world, as written accounts of traders, explorers and adventurers became more widespread. The work was  one of the most expansive Dutch encyclopedias of the time.  (The various volumes were updated a number of times with corrections and new information, with the final changes appearing in 1739.)  Vol. (or ‘Tom.’) VI covered Africa and the Americas.

The main subject of ‘Atlas Historique’ was geography, but Chatelaine and his colleagues were painstaking in tracking down oral and written descriptions of day-to-day commerce, local customs and dress, languages, political structures, history, and religion of various regions on five continents.

The illustrations, delicately engraved by Chatelain, were enhanced with text, making the plates into a form of mini-encyclopedias, dense with information, pleasing to look at, and easy to comprehend.  Chatelain’s best work is his engravings of the many maps in ‘Atlas Historique’.  They have been described as being from ‘the golden age’ of French cartography.   (Chatelain was a Huguenot clergyman, and left Paris around the turn of the  18th century.  He was known to have lived in London, The Hague, and, finally, Amsterdam.)