On 19 October 1800, two ships Le Naturaliste and Le Géographe left Le Havre (in France) for Australia. Initiated by Captain Nicolas Baudin, and supported by Consul Napoleon Bonaparte, the assignment was the geographical reconnaissance of the Australian coasts, the inventory of species, and a description of the populations. After the three official painters abandoned the expedition, Charles-Alexandre Lesueur (1778-1864), and Nicolas-Martin Petit (1777-1804) who had originally joined the expedition as assistant gunsmen and draughtsmen to the Captain’s log, were appointed as the official expedition draughtsmen, supervised by doctor-naturalist François Péron (1775-1810). Most of their drawings and manuscripts are now in the collection of the Natural History Museum of Le Havre (France). The expedition also brought back over 200,000 plant specimens and even animals many of which the Empress Josephine managed to obtain for her collection.
The drawings made by Petit and Lesueur provide a fascinating snapshot of the Australian continent’s flora, fauna, peoples and landscape of 200 years ago.
This major exhibition consisting principally of 400 drawings and 7 manuscripts lent by the Natural History Museum of the Havre as well as pieces from three Paris museums – the Musée de la Marine, the French Archives Nationales, and the Musée de l’Armée – will tour several cities in Australia from June 2016 to December 2018.
Read more about the exhibition in this article by Luke Slattery.
The list of objects exhibited can be found here.
Venue: South Australian Maritime Museum, 126 Lipson Street, Port Adelaide, SA, 5015
Duration: 30 June to 11 December 2016 Opening hours, prices and access
Venue: Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Dunn Place, Hobart, TAS, 7000
Duration: 7 April to 9 July 2017
Venue: Australian National Maritime Museum, 2 Murray Street, Darling Harbour, Sydney, NSW, 2000
Duration: 31 August to 26 November 2017
Venue: National Museum of Australia, Lawson Crescent, Acton Peninsula, Canberra, ACT, 2601
Duration: 30 March to 24 June 2018
Venue: Western Australian Museum, Perth Cultural Centre, James Street, Perth, WA, 6000
Duration 13 September to 9 December 2018