This Atlas comprises forty-four plates and one chart showing the track taken by the expedition commanded by Admiral Bruny d'Entrecasteaux to search for the missing French explorer La Perouse and to conduct surveys of the Australian coastline.
The plates were originally published in 1800 to illustrate the expedition's botanist Labillardiere's two volume account of the expedition in search of La Perouse.
SignificanceThis Atlas documents d'Entrecasteaux's voyage in the RECHERCHE and L'ESPERANCE, which was one of the first in-depth investigations of Australia by the French and indicative of their interest in the region. Some of the earliest observations on the indigenous people of Tasmania and south-western Australia were made on this expedition.
It is noteworthy that, in keeping with the Revolutionary times during which these volumes were published, the title page refers to Labillardiere as 'citoyen' (citizen) Labillardiere; moreover the dates of the expedition are also given with reference to the newly adopted dating system - 1791 and 1792, respectively, "year the first and year second" of the French Republic.
HistoryFrom 1791 to 1793 Jacques Labillardiere was botanist on the expedition commanded by Admiral Joseph-Antoine Bruny d'Entrecasteaux sent to search for the missing French explorer La Perouse. The expedition also had orders to conduct scientific work and anthropological and botanical surveys of the places they visited.
Stopping briefly at the Cape of Good Hope, the expedition's two ships RECHERCHE and ESPERANCE continued to southern Tasmania. During the following years d'Entrecasteaux searched the western Pacific - actually sighting Vanikoro Island in the Solomons (where La Perouse's ships were wrecked) but not stopping there. This was the second time in as many years that a European vessel had come close to finding traces of La Perouse's missing ships; HMS PANDORA had sailed past Vanikoro in August 1791 during their search for the 'pirated' BOUNTY. Although plumes of smoke were detected by the Pandoras, they did not bother to investigate these obvious signs of habitation.
Although he was unable to locate the missing ships during the expedition d'Entrecasteaux conducted important scientific and exploration work of the Pacific, western Australia and Tasmania.
However by 1793 many of the ship's crew were sick and dying, including d'Entrecasteaux who died of scurvy in July. The depleted expedition sailed to Surabaya in the Dutch East Indies where they heard that the French King had been executed and the newly formed Republic of France was at war. At the time many of the expedition papers were captured by the British.
Jacques Labillardiere returned to France in 1796 and his 'Voyage in search of La Perouse', detailing the exploits of the d'Entrecasteaux expedition, was first published in 1800. It offers an account of the natural history and ethnography of the countries d'Entrecasteaux visited. In 1804-1807 Labillardiere also published 'Novae Hollandiae Plantarum Specimen', the most comprehensive account of Australian flora to that time.
Assigned title: Atlas to illustrate the account Voyage in search of La Perouse
Primary title: Atlas pour servir à la relation du voyage à la recherche de La Perouse