Magazine article Sea Classics

From Columbus to Captain Cook

Magazine article Sea Classics

From Columbus to Captain Cook

Article excerpt

The Newport Art Museum's exhibit, "The Boundless Deep - The European Conquest of the Oceans, 1450 to 1840," opened on April 27. It features classic texts and cartographic works from the era of Columbus to the time a century after Captain Cook.

In a city that has a maritime history dating back to the mid-17th century, the objects to be displayed are entirely from the holdings of the John Carter Brown Library in Providence. The Library, located on the campus of Brown University, is an independently funded and administered institution and was founded in 1901. It is one of the world's foremost libraries in the field of "Americana," a word that is cut in stone over its entrance. Its collection of maritime books from this early modern era - in Spanish, Portuguese, French, Dutch, English, German and Italian - has few rivals in the world. Its collection of rare maps dating back many centuries, is one with few rivals anywhere.

The exhibition addresses the epic story of the European expansion across the oceans, beginning with the Portuguese voyages down the west coast of Africa in the middle of the 15th century and culminating in the great scientific expeditions of the 18th and early 19th centuries.

Ocean voyaging required specialized navigational skills, progress in astronomical understanding, advances in ship and rigging design, methods of maintaining the health of seamen, cartographic sophistication, sources of timber for shipbuilding, and always great courage, for the sea can never be fully conquered. All of these subjects and more are treated in this exhibit. …

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