This is an absolutely stellar example of Johnann Walch’s elegant map of Egypt and the Nile Valley. As noted on the map, the geography is borrowed from the work of the prominent French cartographer Robert de Vaugondy (1723-86), and is quite conventional for the time. Egypt is presented in a manner quite familiar the modern observer, as is the lower course of the Nile, although one once reaches Sudan and above to Abyssinia (Ethiopia) the coverage becomes largely conjectural, as no European had yet properly mapped these regions. The Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden are quite well formed, as is, of course, the Mediterranean Sea.
While the main map is pleasant, perhaps the most interesting aspect of Walch’s composition is, in the upper right corner, the lovely circular maritime view of the harbour of Alexandria, Egypt. Likewise, the views of ancient architectural pieces: a Roman column from Pompeii and the Egyptian obelisks of Cleopatra and Matareen. The chart and the architectural adornments are all taken from plates within Frederic Lewis Norden’s The Antiquities, Natural History, Ruins and other Curiosities of Egypt, Nubia and Thebes (London, 1780), a magnificent book on the Nile Valley. Nordens’s book and Walch’s map both capitalized on the contemporary European fascination with Egypt and its ancient artistic forms. Indeed, in 1798, the very year that Walch made the present map, Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Egypt.
Johann Walch (1757 -1824) was one of the last great Augsburg engravers and is known for making several maps of Africa and America, in addition to plans of his hometown.