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Pirogues Carolines work associated with the voyage of the URANIE

Date: 1817-1820
Overall: 225 x 295 mm, 0.34 kg
Image: 167 x 246 mm
Sight: 167 x 246 mm
Sheet: 225 x 295 mm
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Ink wash
Object No: 00037879

User Terms

    In addition to scientific information gathered during the three year voyage of the URANIE, some of the officers made detailed drawings of the Indigenous watercraft they encountered. This original ink wash by midshipman August Berard shows proas (single outrigger sailing canoes) from the Caroline Islands.
    SignificanceThis image from the URANIE expedition commanded by Louis de Freycinet between 1817 and 1820 highlights continuing French interest in the Pacific following the Bourbon restoration.
    HistoryAugust Berard was a midshipman on the URANIE during the voyage. This original ink wash is titled 'Pirogues Carolines' and signed 'Berard'.

    The French expedition vessel URANIE was commanded by Captain Louis de Freycinet. Louis de Freycinet was a French naval officer who had participated in the Baudin expedition (1800 - 1804). As one of the crew of LE NATURALISTE, he was held in high regard by Captain Baudin and eventually entrusted with the command of one of the expedition's auxiliary vessels - the CASUARINA, a 20 ton schooner purchased in Port Jackson - in which de Freycinet was tasked to carry out independent surveys of parts of the southern and western Australian coast during 1803.

    As a result of Baudin's death in 1803, the task of writing the expedition report fell to scientist Francois Peron. When Peron died in 1810, Louis de Freycinet completed the voyage account and charts. On the strength of this work, de Freycinet was promoted to the rank of ''Capitaine de vaisseau'' and given command of a new expedition.

    De Freycinet sailed from Toulon in September 1817 in command of the URANIE and subsequently spent three years at sea. His expedition explored parts of South America and Australia as well as many islands in the East Indies and Pacific Ocean. In 1819 the URANIE left Sydney to sail home via Cape Horn but was subsequently wrecked in the Falkland Islands in February 1820. After a few months, de Freycinet bought another ship which he renamed the PHYSICIENNE, and finally reached Le Havre in November 1820.

    The principal object of Louis de Freycinet's expedition was scientific: he was charged to investigate 'the figure of the earth', 'elements of terrestrial magnetism' and 'questions of meterology', and his officers were also expected to make valuable additions to the existing tables of latitude and longitude, and to collect specimens for museums. Jacques Arago, the government draughtsman attached to the expedition, was charged with 'a faithful representation of all such specimens as their weight or liability to break would not allow them to bring away; and that he should take accurate views of the different coasts, which, besides the useful information they would furnish to navigators, would have the advantage of occasionally offering agreeable landscapes' and 'finally, it was to be expected that captain de Freycinet and his companions would add new particulars to the history of savage nations.' (Report to the Academy of Sciences, 1821).

    Louis de Freycinet had intended to sail to the Cape of Good Hope from France, via Tenerife, but winds drove him west to Brazil. He sighted the coast on 4 December 1817 and entered the harbour of Rio de Janeiro two days later, staying until the end of January 1818. Freycinet and his wife visited the French painter Nicolas Antoine Taunay, who had come to Brazil in 1816 as part of the French artistic mission invited by the king to found an academy of fine arts in Rio de Janeiro. Taunay's fifteen year old son and pupil Adrien Aimé, joined the URANIE at Rio as second draughtsman to the voyage.

    A selection of Arago's drawings as well as works by J.Alphonse Pellion and August Berard midshipmen on the URANIE, and Adrien Aimé Taunay, were published in 1825 in the Atlas Historique which accompanied Louis de Freycinet's official account of the voyage. Arago had previously published a group of his own drawings in his Narrative of a Voyage Round the World (London, 1823).

    In his book Arago recounts a voyage made in April 1819 by him with the URANIE's apothecary Gaudichard and midshipman Berard in 'flying proas' of the Caroline Islands to Rota and Tinian [Letter LXXXIV]. He was so impressed by the experience that he wrote: "Who could imagine that in such frail boats, sometimes only three or four feet wide, and forty long, the planks of which are joined with a little lime and a gum obtained from the breadfruit tree, these daring men, unassisted by the compass, and guided only by the stars and their own experience, would venture to undertake voyages of more than six hundred leagues, and rarely fall victims to their confidence?" [pp 266-267]
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