Generally considered as the first data visualization, the figurative map of Charles Joseph Minard (1869) shows the path of Napoleon’s troops across the Russian Empire of Alexander I. Using amazingly simple and modern graphical codes, this map displays the progress of the troops in the form of a stream whose width indicates the size of the “Great Army”, which will dramatically decrease throughout the campaign.
Although it is reasonable to ask whether this Figurative Map of the successive losses in men of the French Army in the Russian campaign 1812-1813 is indeed a “data visualization” (in itself, it is a drawing that summarizes information), this map is the central piece of an impressive number of articles, analyses and talks. This post is a contribution to the study of historical data visualization. In addition to a faithful vectorized version of the original map, it offers a “geographical” and a “historical” map based on the model of Minard.