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Jean Andriveau-Goujon: Tableau Comparatif de la Forme et de la Hauteur des Principales Montagnes du Globe Terrestre

Map: WLD4556
Cartographer: Jean Andriveau-Goujon
Title: Tableau Comparatif de la Forme et de la Hauteur des Principales Montagnes du Globe Terrestre
Date: 1850
Published: Paris
Width: 22 inches / 56 cm
Height: 16 inches / 41 cm
Map ref: WLD4556
This striking French infographic beautifully compares the relative heights of the world's tallest mountains by stacking them up in a single tableau. Infographic diagrams of this sort became increasingly popular throughout the 19th century as a way of bringing order to the natural world. This diagram, published by the Andriveau-Goujon firm in Paris, is generally considered to be one of the most attractive of the comparative mountain diagrams as a result of its clever layout and the skill of its engraver, Ambroise Tardieu.

Curiously, on this occasion, the publisher has made the unusual, but admirable, decision to leave the mountains uncoloured and instead use colour sparingly. Eight explosive plumes of red and orange highlight some of the world’s most famous volcanoes, including Vesuvius, Cotopaxi, Etna, Mount St. Helens, and Hekla.

Another charming feature of this map is its dedication to the legendary naturalist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt, a pioneer of infographics himself. Von Humboldt was, at his peak, one of the most famous men in Europe and his discoveries, particularly in South America, contributed significantly to European understanding of the natural world. His ascent up Chimborazo to the height of almost 6,000 metres is specifically noted in the diagram.

Other interesting features noted in the diagram include the height of a typical French ship of the line (for scale), the Great Pyramid of Giza, the depth of the Mine d’Anzin, the lowest depth known to man at the time, and the height of the 1804 hot air balloon ascent by Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac, the greatest altitude achieved by man at the time of publication.

Original hand-colour. [WLD4556]