The journey to the southern lands (1800-1804)

The journey to the southern lands (1800-1804)


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  • First page of the historical and navigation diary of Captain Nicolas Baudin

  • Port-Jackson. New Holland (now Sydney. Australia).

    LESUEUR Charles-Alexandre (1778 - 1846)

  • Tasmanian woman with her child.

    LITTLE Nicolas-Martin (1777 - 1804)

  • Gray kangaroos from Decres Island (now Kangaroo Island, South Australia).

    LESUEUR Charles-Alexandre (1778 - 1846)

To close

Title: First page of the historical and navigation diary of Captain Nicolas Baudin

Author :

Creation date : 1799

Date shown: 1800

Dimensions: Height 42.5 - Width 32.5

Technique and other indications: manuscript; drawing; send; the opinion

Storage place: Historic Center of the National Archives website

Contact copyright: © Historic Center of the National Archives - Photography workshop

Picture reference: TUE / 5D / 35

First page of the historical and navigation diary of Captain Nicolas Baudin

© Historic Center of the National Archives - Photography workshop

To close

Title: Port-Jackson. Australia).

Author : LESUEUR Charles-Alexandre (1778 - 1846)

Creation date : 1802

Date shown: 1802

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: Pencil

Storage place: Natural history museum - Le Havre website

Contact copyright: © Museum of Natural History. Le Havre. Lesueur collection

Picture reference: 16063-2

Port-Jackson. Australia).

© Museum of Natural History. Lesueur collection

To close

Title: Tasmanian woman with her child.

Author : LITTLE Nicolas-Martin (1777 - 1804)

Creation date : 1802

Date shown: 1802

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: Brown wash

Storage place: Natural history museum - Le Havre website

Contact copyright: © Museum of Natural History. Lesueur collection

Picture reference: 20 022-3

Tasmanian woman with her child.

© Museum of Natural History. Lesueur collection

To close

Title: Gray kangaroos from Decres Island (now Kangaroo Island, South Australia).

Author : LESUEUR Charles-Alexandre (1778 - 1846)

Creation date : 1802

Date shown: 1802

Dimensions: Height 26 - Width 40

Technique and other indications: Watercolor

Storage place: Natural history museum - Le Havre website

Contact copyright: © Museum of Natural History. Lesueur collection

Picture reference: 80 057

Gray kangaroos from Decres Island (now Kangaroo Island, South Australia).

© Museum of Natural History. Lesueur collection

Publication date: March 2016

Historical context

An exploration expedition

In 1800, the southern continent had only been partially recognized. Harvesting the fat from proboscis seals is also profitable.

The French did not have the same luck: the La Pérouse expedition under Louis XVI was lost body and property (1785-1788) then the internal and external disturbances of the revolutionary period made it impossible to undertake new shipment. It may be that outside of official instructions consistent with the tradition of Enlightenment discovery, Baudin was commissioned to collect some information on English colonization in Australia and on the use for this purpose of common criminals.

Image Analysis

Very difficult conditions

Two corvettes were chartered in the port of Le Havre and renamed the Geographer and the Naturalist, to illustrate the geographical, cartographic, zoological, botanical and anthropological objectives of the trip. Significant resources are allocated to ensure the success of the expedition. Full health instructions are given and passports issued by all governments in Europe.

The departure took place on October 19, 1800. The staff consisted of several officers of great future and a team of twenty scientists was carefully selected. Artists are also recruited. The two ships are progressing at very different speeds, the crew suffering from scurvy and dysentery. Commander Baudin will die of tuberculosis on the way home.

On arrival at the Ile de France (future Mauritius), in March 1801, after a long crossing, a number of sailors, scientists and designers deserted or asked to disembark for health reasons. Two young artists, Nicolas-Martin Petit, a student of David, and Charles-Alexandre Lesueur were then appointed official designers.

On the coasts of Australia and on Timor, officers and scientists are collecting a wealth of information. Descriptions and drawings in ethnology, zoology, botany, geographical and astronomical surveys, are carried out despite the difficulties and often contrary climatic circumstances.

Interpretation

Prodigious but little known scientific results

Two hundred and six cases containing more than 23,000 items of botany, zoology and mineralogy have arrived at the Museum. Botanists alone have collected around 2,500 unknown species. The enormous collection of plants, flowers, seeds, fruits, birds and other specimens brought back from this expedition is intended to paint a picture of the natural history of the continent and the islands. It constitutes a scientific contribution on this continent more important than the voyages of Cook. In anthropology, we discover that two distinct ethnic groups inhabit the coasts of New Holland and the Land of Diemen (Tasmania) very sparsely.

In zoology, marsupials [2] are one of these discoveries. The collected objects will fuel scientific debates on the evolution of species between fixists like Cuvier and evolutionists like Lamarck.
Added to this is an essential element common to the different disciplines covered by Baudin's voyage: the magnificent iconographic ensemble developed by the two young artists of the expedition, now kept at the Natural History Museum in Le Havre. It contains a large amount of portraits, group scenes, landscapes and activities of daily life which make it an exceptional source.

  • discoveries
  • overseas
  • botanical
  • expedition
  • Holland
  • England
  • Australia
  • colonies
  • Bonaparte (Napoleon)
  • boat
  • Mauritius
  • zoology
  • Cuvier (Georges)

Bibliography

My trip to the Southern Territories, Personal diary of Commander Baudin illustrated by Lesueur and Petite text prepared by Jacqueline Bonnemains, Paris, Imprimerie nationale, 2000.

Etienne TAILLEMITE French sailors exploring the world, from Jacques Cartier to Dumont d'Urville Paris, Fayard, 1999.

Olivier CHAPUIS In the sea as in the sky. Beautemps-Beaupré and the birth of modern hydrography (1700-1850) Paris, Paris-Sorbonne University Press, 1999.

Notes

1. During the passage of the French, the population of the city amounted to approximately 2,400 inhabitants of which a third of convicts employed in public works.

2. Marsupials have a mode of reproduction different from that of other so-called placental mammals. The embryo, after a weak development thanks to the reserves specific to the egg, lodges in the marsupial pocket where it finishes its growth. These secondary era mammals were then supplanted by the more adapted placental mammals. We still meet them in Australia, where there was no competition.

To cite this article

Luce-Marie ALBIGÈS, "The trip to the southern lands (1800-1804)"


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