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Nouvelle- Hollande: Ile King, l'elephant marin ou phoque a trompe

Date: 1807
Dimensions:
Overall: 329 x 248 mm
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Art
Object Name: Engraving
Object No: 00001473
Place Manufactured:Paris
Related Place:King Island,

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    Description
    This view of Sea Elephants at King Island, New Holland was made after a Lesueur painting. Charles-Alexandre Lesueur and Nicolas-Martin Petit were artists to the French expedition under Nicolas Baudin following the withdrawal of the official artists at Mauritius. In 1803 the GEOGRAPHE's boats surveyed King Island and it was there on the east coast (at Bae des Elephants) that Lesueur drew these remarkable creatures.
    SignificanceThis engraving is representative of French natural history studies completed on the expedition led by Nicolas Baudin in the ships GEOGRAPHE and NATURALISTE.
    HistoryThis image appeared as Plate XXXII in Francois Peron's official account of Baudin's expedition - Voyage de decouvertes aux terres Australes.

    Nicolas 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. 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 (Ile de France). 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 west 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

    Primary title: Sea Elephants at King Island, Australia

    Web title: Nouvelle- Hollande: Ile King, l'elephant marin ou phoque a trompe

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