Steel engraving, two sheets joined, 40 x 63 cm, engraved by Benjamin Rees Davies after William Barnard Clarke, trivial spotting, numbered in an old hand, original hand colour, blank verso.
This map is a plan of Venice featuring a location map set within a scroll, and a vignette of St Mark’s Square. The eastern tip of La Giudecca is completely blank. Slightly later maps show gardens on the spot, but while Davies has engraved the layouts of neighbouring formal gardens (possibly with a dash of imagination), in 1838 he seems to have regarded this part of the island as entirely featureless.
The Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge was founded in 1826 with the high-minded aim of making ‘useful’ information available to self-taught members of the working and lower middle classes. Some of the material was decidedly abstruse, subscribers fell away and the Society was wound up in 1848; however, the series of 209 maps published over a 14 year period from 1829 onwards were highly praised for their superior quality, accuracy and aesthetic appeal and remain an outstanding achievement.