Didier Robert de Vaugondy (1723-1786)

Didier Robert de Vaugondy was the son of Gilles Robert Vaugondy, a mathematics professor and cartographer. His father had inherited a share of the mapmaking business originally founded by the great French cartographer Nicolas Sanson (1600-1667) and the Vaugondys collaborated with the other Sanson heirs to reprint Sanson’s maps. Gilles trained his son in mathematics and cartography and the two worked closely together, with Dider adding globemaking to their business. They worked at a time when France dominated the cartographic scene in Europe both in terms of quality and quantity, combining scientific precision with aesthetic beauty. Vaugondy is often confused with his father although they used different signatures: the elder Vaugondy tended to use his mother’s maiden name as a professional name, styling himself “Monsieur Robert” whereas the younger Vaugondy used the more aristocratic “de Vaugondy.” After his father’s death, Vaugondy continued the business but was plagued by disasters both personal — his infant sons died and his wife went mad with grief — and financial until he was compelled to sell the family business to Jean Baptiste Fortin (1740-1817).

This exhibit contains one map associated with Vaugondy: