Engraving titled 'Pirogue de l'ile de Bouka. Pirogue des Arsacides', plate 43 from the 'Atlas du voyage a la recherche de La Perouse' published by Labillardiere in Paris in 1811 (Though earlier published by Labillardiere in 'Relation du Voyage a la Recherche de La Perouse', Paris, 1800). Both engravings are by Copia after Piron.
SignificanceFrom 1791 to 1793 Jacques Julien Houton de Labillardiere was botanist on the expedition commanded by Admiral Joseph-Antoine Bruny d'Entrecasteaux sent to search for the explorer La Perouse, missing in the Pacific. The expedition reached the Solomon islands in mid 1793.
HistoryJacques Labillardiere was the botanist on the expedition commanded by Admiral Joseph-Antoine Bruny d'Entrecasteaux sent to search for the missing French explorer La Perouse. The expedition was also ordered to conduct scientific work and surveys of the countries they visited.
Stopping briefly at the Cape of Good Hope, the expedition's two ships LA RECHERCHE and L'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, the Pandoras 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 research and exploration 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 remaining expedition sailed to Surabaya in the Dutch East Indies where they learnt 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 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 the Australian flora to that time.