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Nouvelle Hollande: Nouvelle Galles du Sud - Dessins executes par les Naturels

Date: 1824
Medium: Engraving on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Art
Object Name: Engraving
Object No: 00001481
Place Manufactured:Paris

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    Description
    The French ships GEOGRAPHE and NATURALISTE under the command of Nicolas Baudin formed a scientific expedition sent to survey the Australian coastline in October 1800. This engraving was created during their visit to Sydney from June to November 1802, and depicts Aboriginal rock carvings drawn as simple outlines. Rock engravings often depict animals and are commonly found on flat rock exposures such as ridges.

    SignificanceThis engraving is a valuable record of Aboriginal culture in the Sydney region and an example of the French contribution to exploration in Australia.
    HistoryNicolas Baudin sailed from France in command of the ships GEOGRAPHE and NATURALISTE on a scientific expedition to Australia in October 1800. Baudin had previously served in the merchant marine, French Navy (during the American War of Independence), French East India Company and for the Austrian Emperor, Joseph II. He had acquired a reputation as an amateur naturalist after returning from Puerto Rico with a splendid collection of natural specimens in 1797. Based on the success of the Puerto Rican expedition, Baudin proposed a scientific expedition to New Holland (Australia). Apart from the scientific interests of the expedition, Baudin planned to survey parts of the Australian coast - particularly those areas as yet only poorly charted. The great French explorer Louis-Antoine de Bougainville was an influential supporter of the expedition and his son Hyacinthe served as a midshipman aboard the GEOGRAPHE. Command of the NATURALISTE was given to Jacques-Felix Hamelin.

    While Baudin was given command, he had little control over the selection of scientists and officers, and shipboard tensions were exacerbated by a very slow passage from France to Mauritius. Morale plummeted and several of the officers left the expedition at Mauritius. In May 1801 the expedition reached Cape Leeuwin (WA). Baudin's instructions were to sail south to Tasmania, but with winter approaching, he chose instead to commence surveying north along the western Australian coast - discovering and naming Geographe Bay in the process. The GEOGRAPHE and NATURALISTE separated and while Hamelin undertook a survey of Shark Bay, the two ships only reunited at Timor.

    In November the expedition sailed south into the Indian Ocean and then east to Tasmania - arriving there in January 1802. Over the next three months the expedition surveyed much of Bass Strait and the south coast of Australia. Baudin's survey coincided with that of Matthew Flinders in the INVESTIGATOR and an encounter between the two men took place on 8 April 1802 at a place now named Encounter Bay. The period in Tasmania produced a wealth of new geographic information, and the expedition scientists collected abundant natural history specimens, and made important records of the indigenous Tasmanians (Peron producing a study of the aborigines of Maria Island).

    During the survey the GEOGRAPHE and NATURALISTE had acted separately but rendezvoused in Port Jackson in June 1802. At Port Jackson Baudin bought a smaller vessel, the CASUARINA to replace the slow and cumbersome NATURALISTE which was then sent home to France. Over the following year the expedition surveyed more of Bass Strait, King Georges Sound, and the Australian north coast around Bathurst and Melville islands. In August 1803 the expedition returned to Mauritius where Baudin died on 16 September.
    Additional Titles

    Secondary title: Native rock art of New South Wales, Australia

    Primary title: Nouvelle Hollande: Nouvelle Galles du Sud - Dessins executes par les Naturels

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