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Plan des Îles Vanikoro ou de La Pérouse, reconnues par le Captaine de Frégate Dumont d'Urville

Date: 1936
Dimensions:
Overall: 745 x 1055 mm, 0.15 kg
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Maps, charts and plans
Object Name: Chart
Object No: 00005992
Related Place:Vanikoro,

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    Description
    A chart of Vanikoro Island - Santa Cruz Group, Solomon Islands - published in 1936, based on the survey carried out by Dumont d'Urville in 1828 and on subsequent surveys carried out in the course of the 19th century by visiting French naval vessels.
    SignificanceIn August 1785 the French navigator La Perouse sailed from France on a voyage to explore the Pacific Ocean in the ships LA BOUSSOLE and L'ASTROLABE. In January 1788 La Perouse's expedition anchored in Botany Bay just as the ships of the recently arrived 'First Fleet' were moving to a better anchorage in Port Jackson.

    The French ships remained at Botany Bay (Frenchman's Bay) until 10 March 1788 when they departed to complete the final leg of their ambitious exploration voyage of the Pacific. The ships were thought to ultimately be destined for Mauritius, but when no news of the expedition had been received by 1791, another French naval expedition was assembled under the command of Admiral Bruny d'Entrecasteaux to search for the missing expedition ships.

    The La Perouse expedition’s loss was a great disappointment in France and its disappearance was a major maritime mystery in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The expedition's royal patron (King Louis XVI) is said to have asked, just before his execution by guillotine in 1793 whether, finally, there was some news of La Perouse!

    However, despite a long search by D'Entrecasteaux, no clues were discovered and it would not be until 1826 that an Anglo-Irish sandalwood trader, Peter Dillon, investigated stories he had heard in Tikopia about shipwrecks on Vanikoro; he subsequently heard more stories and eventually discovered the remains of a wreck on the fringing reef around neighbouring Vanikoro Island.

    Acting on Dillon's reports and after finding and recovering ship's equipment from the reef flat, Dumont d'Urville surveyed adjacent Vanikoro Island in 1828 and erected a monument to the missing ships and their crews. This chart is a result of that survey.
    HistoryCaptain Jules Dumont d'Urville was a French naval officer who commanded two voyages of discovery to the Pacific Ocean and to Antarctica during the Bourbon Restoration (1815-1830) and July Monarchy (1830 - 1848)

    At an early stage of his naval career Dumont d'Urville participated in a hydrographic survey of the Aegean Sea during which he was instrumental in the recovery for the Musee de Louvre of the 'Venus de Milo'; he later served with distinction as second-in-command to Captain Louis Duperrey during a circumnavigation in the 'corvette' LA COQUILLE (1822 - 1825)

    Due to the success of that voyage, the French Minister for the Navy commissioned another voyage in LA COQUILLE, which was refitted and renamed L'ASTROLABE in recognition of the fact that one of the voyage's objectives was to discover the fate of La Perouse's two ships (L'Astrolabe and La Boussole) which had disappeared without trace in 1788.

    The fate of La Perouse's expedition had become a great mystery since the disappearance of the two ships. Unfortunately an opportunity to rescue some survivors and shed new light on the mystery had passed by in 1791 when HMS PANDORA sailed within sight of Vanikoro and ignored smoke plumes indicating that the island was inhabited. The La Perouse expedition’s demise was also a great disappointment in France. The expedition's royal patron (King Louis XVI) is said to have asked, shortly before his execution by guillotine in 1793, whether finally there was some news of La Perouse!

    Dumont d'Urville was given command and set off in the renamed 'corvette' in 1826; this first voyage in L'ASTROLABE lasted nearly 3 years (to 1829) and, following reports from the sandalwood trader Peter Dillon, succeeded in finding the wreck of La Perouse's ASTROLABE and evidence of a survivors' camp on Vanikoro Island; however, by then none of La Perouse's crews had survived to tell of their fate after shipwreck. Dumont d'Urville erected a monument to La Perouse at Vanikoro before starting the return journey to France. He arrived in Marseilles in February 1829 carrying anchors, chains and guns collected from the wreck site.

    On its second Pacific voyage, which included a visit to Anarctica and also lasted almost three years (1837-1840) L'ASTROLABE was accompanied by the 'corvette' LA ZELEE, commanded by Dumont d'Urville's former second-in-command in L'ASTROLABE Lieutenant Jacquinot.

    The findings of both voyages were published in Paris accompanied by 'Atlases' containing a wide variety of detailed illustrations, ranging from drawings of collected specimens of natural history and coastal views to portraits of exotic peoples encountered during the voyages.

    Dumont d'Urville gained fame for his role in unravelling the disappearance of La Perouse, one of the greatest maritime mysteries of the 19th century; and for his exploration of Antarctica. On 8 May 1842 he was killed with his family when the train they were on derailed and caught fire during a journey from Versailles to Paris.

    Bibliography:
    Dumont d'Urville: 'Atlas historique' to 'Voyage de la corvette l'Astrolabe execute par ordre du Roi pendant les annees 1826, 1827, 1828, 1829, sous le commandement de M. Jules S-C Dumont d'Urville

    Dumont d'Urville: 'Atlas Pittoresque' to 'Voyage au Pole Sud et dans l'Oceanie sur les corvettes l'Astrolabe et la Zelee, execute par ordre du Roi pendant les annees 1837, 1838, 1839,1840, sous le commandement de M. Jules Dumont d'Urville, Capitaine de Vaisseau.




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