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Port du Roi Georges, (Nouvelle Hollande). Un naturel montre a ses Compagnons les Cadeaux qu’il a recus a bord de l’Astrolabe

Date: 1833
Dimensions:
Overall: 361 x 547 mm, 0.05 kg
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Art
Object Name: Lithograph
Object No: 00008306
Place Manufactured:Paris

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    Description
    Rear Admiral Jules Sébastien César Dumont d'Urville (1790-1842) was a French explorer and naval officer who explored the South and Western Pacific, Australia, New Zealand and Antarctica. This lithograph is one of many by official naval artist Louis Auguste de Sainson (1800-1887) which depicts d'Urville's 1826-1829 voyage to the Pacific aboard the French corvette ASTROLABE. This voyage included skirting the coast of southern Australia, developing new relief maps of the South Island of New Zealand, visiting the archipelagos of Tonga and Fiji, formulating the first relief maps of the Loyalty Islands (part of French New Caledonia) and exploring the coast of New Guinea. This particular lithograph helps to document the time d'Urville's expedition spent at King George Sound, Western Australia between 7 and 25 October, 1826.
    SignificanceThis lithograph is significant in that it provides a visual record of one of the great French exploratory ventures of the 19th century (and, incidentally, one of the last). It is important as a source in both the history of European world exploration and, more specifically, of the European relationship with Australia and its inhabitants.
    HistoryRear Admiral Jules Sébastien César Dumont d'Urville was a French explorer and naval officer who explored the South and Western Pacific, Australia, New Zealand and Antarctica.

    He was born on 23 May 1790, enlisted in the navy at the age of 17 and, following the completion of his studies at the Naval Academy at Brest in 1808 was initially confined to land-based duties. He undertook his first short navigation of the Mediterranean Sea in 1814, after Napoleon Bonaparte had been defeated and exiled to Elba.

    Despite having failed to obtain entry into the École Polytechnique (the foremost school of engineering in France) in his youth, d'Urville had, nevertheless, always maintained an interest in all things scientific. He also admired explorers such as Bougainville, Cook and Ansen. In 1819 he sailed aboard the CHEVRETTE, under the command of Captain Gauttier-Duparc, to carry out a hydrographic survey of the islands of the Greek archipelago. It was during this voyage that d'Urville played a major part in helping France to acquire the now world famous Venus de Milo statue. This achievement alone earned him the title of Chevalier (knight), the Legion of Honour, the attention of the French Academy of Sciences and promotion to lieutenant.

    In August 1822 d'Urville set sail onboard the COQUILLE (this time as second in command). It was a joint exploratory venture between him and his friend/Captain, Louis Isidore Duperrey that was aimed at helping to reclaim France's place in the Pacific after the Napoleonic Wars. In March 1825, the COQUILLE brought back to France thousands of floral and faunal specimens. Despite having behaved like a competent officer, d'Urville had neglected his health and his hygiene as well as having shown very little inclination to socialise during the voyage. On the return to France, Duperrey was promoted to commander, while d'Urville was promoted to a lower rank.

    D'Urville's next venture would be one he commanded himself. Two months after his return aboard the COQUILLE he presented the Naval Ministry with his plan for a new expedition which would see him returning to the Pacific. It was approved and on 25 April 1826, the COQUILLE (renamed the ASTROLABE) departed Toulon to circumnavigate the world in a voyage that would last nearly three years.

    Louis de Sainson (1800-1887) trained as a topographic draughtsman and, at the age of 25, joined Dumont d' Urville's 1826-1829 expedition to the Pacific as the ASTROLABE's official artist. De Sainson is mentioned frequently in d' Urville's account of the voyage.

    "…it is obvious that de Sainson was an active and easy-going participant in the ship's mission to gather and document discoveries, and regularly went ashore with other members of the crew." ('Lure of the Southern Seas : the Voyages of Dumont D'Urville 1826-1840' by Susan Hunt, Martin Terry and Nicholas Thomas, Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales, 2002, p126)

    D'Urville quotes de Sainson's journal on several occasions giving a unique insight into the mind of this artist about which very little is otherwise known. Perhaps the most fruitful of these is an entry in which de Sainson recounts a night spent ashore at King George Sound, Western Australia. It includes the interaction that took place between the French sailors and the Indigenous Australians. This particular lithograph represents this interaction as it depicts French scientists displaying gifts to Aboriginal people who are dressed in kangaroo skin capes. It is one of several of de Sainson's works (another being 00008308) in this collection that documents the time d'Urville spent at King George Sound, Western Australia, between 7 and 25 October 1826.

    The inscription below the title of this lithograph can be roughly translated as "A native shows his companions the gifts he has received aboard the Astrolabe."

    The volume of work de Sainson produced from the expedition was immense. Following the ASTROLABE's arrival at Marseilles on 25 February 1829, he was involved for four years in the preparation of the atlas volumes, a process which included the transformation of his own watercolours into pictorial plates. His work was finally published in 1833. He left the navy in 1836 and turned down d'Urville's request for him to join his next expedition to the Pacific. He continued to work as an illustrator but little is known about his later life.
    Additional Titles

    Secondary title: King George's Sound. New Holland- a native showing his companions the presents received on board the ASTROLABE

    Web title: Port du Roi Georges, (Nouvelle Hollande). Un naturel montre a ses Compagnons les Cadeaux qu’il a recus a bord de l’Astrolabe

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