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Pierre–Antoine Clerc

Pierre–Antoine Clerc (Nantua, 8 November 1770 – Metz, 1843), topographer, was an official in the Engineering Corps of the French army and, in January 1809, by his order, a group was instituted that would produce contour maps of some of the locations considered to be especially important for strategic reasons in the geography of the Empire.
In 1808 Napoléon Bonaparte had declared the Gulf of La Spezia, at the time entering within the confines of the French empire, a military port, and elected the Ligurian city as the seat of the maritime prefecture at the head of the VII Arrondissement Maritime. The emperor considered the Gulf of La Spezia to be especially suited for the creation of an arsenal and a new urban settlement and it was precisely this area that was involved in the first experimental mission of the group of topographers, first comprising Clerc and four students and then expanding to a team of eleven. The mission was carried out between February 1809 and summer 1811, generating a considerable body of documentation composed of technical drawings and watercolours, the latter also being very interesting from an artistic perspective. The final products were of three types: the contour map in 1:1000 scale in eighteen large–format sheets (lever nivelé), of which one perfect copy remains from the mid–nineteenth century; the reduction to 5000 (carte nivelée) and the plastic, this too in a 1:1000 scale (carte relief).
The group, officially instituted after the Ligurian mission with a decree of 21 March 1813, continued its work until almost the end of the nineteenth century. It was led by Clerc until 1825.