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IBERIA – SPAIN & PORTUGAL / FINE BINDING: A New Map of Spain and Portugal, Exhibiting the Chains of Mountains with their Passes, the Principal & Cross Roads, with Other Details requisite for the Intelligence of Military Operations compiled by Jasper Nantiat.


Jasper NANTIAT (d. 1817), Cartographer; William FADEN (1749 – 1836), Publisher.

London: William Faden, January 1, 1810.

Copper engraving with full original hand colour, dissected and mounted on 4 parts of original linen, all housed in an exquisite custom-made full brown calf box (measuring 23 x 16.5 x 4.5 cm), dating from 1811-5, with elegant gilt tooling and a black name piece to lid marked in gilt as ‘Brigadeiro General Lobo’ (Good, map with lovely full hand colour, some light print transference, toning and staining, plus, some contemporary small ink stains likely from active military use; box with some edgewear and minor abrasions), each part of map approximately 57 x 79.5 cm, that if joined would form a map approximately 113 x 158 cm (44.5 x 62 inches).

A unique example of Jasper Nantiat’s monumental and masterly map of Spain and Portugal, published at the beginning of 1810, during the Peninsular War; meticulous and beautifully rendered, it features all the ‘Details requisite for the Intelligence of Military Operations’, and was made as a strategic aid for the commanders of Arthur Wellesley’s (the future Duke of Wellington) combined British-Portuguese-Spanish force, as they successfully fought to liberate Iberia from Napoleon’s Legions; the present example is stellar, as it was owned by Brigadier (later Lieutenant General) João Lobo Brandão de Almeida, later the Conde de Alhandra, one of the most important Portuguese military commanders during the war and the dramatic revolutionary period of the early 1820s, housed in an exquisite custom-made full brown calf and gilt tooled box bearing Lobo’s name in gilt, while the map features contemporary ink stains, suggesting that Lobo did indeed use it as a wartime strategic aid.

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The Peninsular War (1807–1814) brought Iberia to the forefront of geopolitics, with the conflict being the struggle by Portugal, Spain and their British allies to liberate the peninsula from French occupation. During the war, General Sir Arthur Wellesley, later the Duke of Wellington, first rose to global fame for his brilliant and dogged campaign to gradually push back Napoleon’s legions. The conflict involved mass guerilla warfare, which made a profound knowledge of the terrain especially critical.

To capitalize on wartime imperatives, William Faden, then the leading commercial mapmaker in the British Empire, commissioned one of his cartographers, Jasper Nantiat, to compose the present monumental map of Iberia. Imbued with, as the title says, “Details requisite for the Intelligence of Military Operations”, it was intended to serve as a strategic aid to British-Allied commanders and political leaders. Nantiat poured over the best sources, which are described in the ‘Advertisement’, to the left of the title, to create this stellar work, which in grand scale shows all Portugal and Spain. The map, which has each of Spain and Portugal’s provinces shaded in its own attractive hue of original wash, sees the coasts carefully delineated, while all cities, towns and fortifications are marked, as are the post roads, while special attention is given to defining the mountain ranges and passes, in what was a very rugged region.

Portugal was initially invaded by France in November 1807, but the following year was liberated by a joint Anglo-Portuguese force commanded by Wellington the following year. In 1809, Wellington ordered the construction of a massive chain of forts to the north of Lisbon, running from the Tagus River to the sea, known as the ‘Torres Vedras Line’.

The present map would have been highly valued by British and Portuguese commanders serving in the field, as in July 1810, only six months after that work was printed, the French Marshal Masséna stormed into Portugal from Spain, at the head of an army of 65,000 troops. He made for Lisbon, but the Torres Vedras Line managed to stop the French juggernaut, saving Portugal, and returning the momentum in the Peninsular War to Wellington & Co. In due course, the Allies invaded Spain and progressively pushed Napoleon’s men ever north, taking Madrid, before striking a decisive blow by winning the Battle of Vitoria (June 21, 1813), in the Basque Country. The liberation of Portugal and Spain was complete when the French were forced over the Pyrenees during the winter of 1813-4 (France and Napoleon would fall the next year, following the Battle of Waterloo).

Despite his obvious talent, not much is known about Jasper Nantiat (d. 1817), the cartographer who made the map. We can assume that he was one of the many professional draftsmen/mapmakers employed by William Faden, who was then Britain’s leading map publisher. In addition to the present work, Nantiat drafted a fine map of Russia, The Russian Dominions in Europe: drawn from the latest maps, printed by the Academy of Sciences, St Petersburg, revised and corrected, with the post roads & new governments, from the Russian Atlas of 1806 (London: William Faden, 1808). It seems that after working in London for some years, he moved to Tiverton, Devon, where he died. He apparently left his financial affairs in great disarray, as a notice in The London Gazette (May 15, 1819), reads that: “The creditors of the late Jasper Nantiat, of Tiverton, in the County of Devon, but formerly of London or its vicinity, are requested to send the particulars of their claims against the said Jasper Nantiat, to Messrs. Wood and Strong, Solicitors, Tiverton, or the Mr. Thomas Heathfield, 138, Leadenhall Street, on or before the 1st of July next, in order that a distribution of his effects may be made”.

An August Provenance: General João Lobo Brandão de Almeida and the Map’s Fine Casing

The Nantiat map of Iberia is not particularly rare; however, the present example is stellar and unique, owing to its august provenance. The map is housed within an exquisite custom-made full-calf box, adorned with gilt tooling and a black name piece to its lid labelled in gilt as ‘Brigadeiro General Lobo’. This refers to the Portuguese army commander Brigadier General João Lobo Brandão de Almeida, and the box dates from the period in which he held that rank, between May 1811 to October 1815. During that time, Lobo was variously the governor of a vital army base in the Tajus Valley and a frontline infantry battle commander. The map bears many small ink stains, which suggests that Brigadier Lobo must have poured over it, using it as a strategic aid, proving that the map, as its title claims, has all the “Details Requisite for the Intelligence of Military Operations”.

Lieutenant General João Lobo Brandão de Almeida (1759 – d. after 1826), the Conde de Alhandra, was one of the most important Portuguese military commanders during the Peninsular War and the dramatic revolutionary period of the early 1820s. Born to an affluent family in Arruda dos Vinhos, just north of Lisbon, Lobo was initially focused on serving the Roman Catholic Church. He studied in Rome at the prestigious Nazarene College before joining the Knighst of Malta, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

Seeing as Portugal was being threatened by Napoleonic France, sometime around 1805, Lobo returned home and transferred to the Portuguese Army, maintaining his rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He joined the Torres Vedras Militia Regiment and was promoted to Colonel in January 1807.

Following the French invasion and occupation of Portugal in November 1807, Lobo was engaged in resistance activities and the following year he commanded an army corps in support of Wellington’s British liberation force, which soon (temporarily) evicted Napoleon’s Legions from the country.

In 1809, Colonel Lobo was placed in charge of an infantry regiment, helping to stop the French reinvasion of Portugal in 1810. In May 1811 was promoted to Brigadier General and was made the Governor of the Praça de Abrantes, a strategically critical base on the Tajus River, about 140 km northeast of Lisbon. In December 1813, Lobo was transferred to the Operations Army, where he assumed a combat command, in charge of the 2nd Infantry Brigade.

In October 1815, Lobo was made an acting Field Marshal and was subsequently appointed as the commander of the of Praça de Elvas, and the Military Governor of Alentejo Province, one of the top posts of the Portuguese military. In May 1820, he was given the permanent rank of Lieutenant General.

Following the Liberal Revolution of 1820 (August 24), which compelled King João VI to return to Portugal from his long exile in Brazil, the country fell into a state of constant instability and tension. In September 1821, the king, considering Lobo to be a ‘safe pair of hands’, appointed him to his War Council. In 1823, Lobo was made the Military Governor of Trás-os-Montes Province, a potentially volatile northeastern region that needed to be secured, while also being ennobled as the Viscount of Alhandra. His final posts, from June 1824, included serving as the Governor of Arms of the Royal Court and as the Military Governor of Estremadura. Lobo retired from active service in February 1826, and was elevated to being the Count of Alhandra. Little is known about his life after that time.

References: British Library: Maps C.12.f.4.; The Anti-Jacobin Review and Magazine or Monthly Political and Literary Censor, vol. XXXVII (1810), p. 184. Cf. [re: Nantiat:] The London Gazette, no. 17477 (May 15, 1819), p. 849.