A lithograph from Louis de Freycinet's 'Voyage de L'Uranie' depicting two 'conger eels' collected during the voyage of the URANIE. Plate 52.
SignificanceThis lithograph reflects 19th Century scientific interest in Natural History; detailed documentation and specimen collection of unknown or unfamiliar marine animal species was a feature of the methodology adhered to by scientists accompanying 19th Century voyages of discovery.
HistoryLouis de Freycinet was a French naval officer who had participated in the Baudin expedition as the expedition's hydrographer/cartographer. As one of the crew of LE NATURALISTE, he was held in high regard by Baudin and eventually entrusted with the command of one of the expedition's auxillary 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.
De Freycinet subsequently collaborated with the naturalist Peron, who had been on board LE GEOGRAPHE, on the analysis and presentation of the findings from the Baudin expedition; two volumes and several charts were published between 1807 and 1816.
On the strength of this work, de Freycinet was promoted to the rank of ''Capitaine de vaisseau'' and offered command of another exploring expedition to complete the objectives of Baudin's original mission in Australian and South Pacific waters.
In command of the corvette URANIE, de Freycinet sailed from Toulon in September 1817 and subsequently spent three years at sea. His expedition explored and charted Shark Bay in Western Australia as well as many islands in the East Indies and Pacific Ocean, including the Moluccan, the Caroline and Mariana islands. The expedition finally put in at Port Jackson in November 1819 before returning home via Cape Horn. The URANIE was wrecked in the Falkland Islands in February 1820.
De Freycinet's voyage in the URANIE was especially remarkable for the fact that Rose de Freycinet, his wife, accompanied him during the entire voyage. She had joined the expedition clandestinely, having come on board disguised as the son of one of de Freycinet's officers. A journal kept by Rose de Freycinet survived the shipwreck and was published in the 1930s; an English translation was published by the National Library of Australia in 1996. (A Woman of Courage, translated by Professor Serge Rivière)
F. Péron and L. Freycinet, Voyage de Decouvertes aux Terres Australes: Exécuté par Ordre de sa Majeste, l’Empereur et Roi, sur les Corvettes le Geographe, le Naturaliste et la Goelette le Casuarina, Pendant les Annees 1800, 1801, 1802, 1803 et 1804, vols 1-2 (Paris, 1807-16)
L. Freycinet, Voyage Autour du Monde, Entrepris par Ordre du Roi ... Exécuté sur les Corvettes de S. M. l'Uranie et la Physicienne Pendant les Annees 1817, 1818, 1819 et 1820: Historique, vols 1-2 (Paris, 1825)
Marc Serge Rivière - A Woman of Courage (National Library of Australia, ISBN 0 642 10676 2)