"Wayggiou". Louis de Freycinet's corrected proof engraving of plate 44 of his voyage Atlas Historique (of 1826), subsequently captioned " Iles des Papous: Lèpre icthyose" FREYCINET VOYAGE, Jacques ARAGO, E. FORGET.

"Wayggiou". Freycinet's corrected proof engraving of plate 44 of his Atlas Historique…
"Wayggiou". Louis de Freycinet's corrected proof engraving of plate 44 of his voyage Atlas Historique (of 1826), subsequently captioned " Iles des Papous: Lèpre icthyose".

Paris: after 1820 and before final publication in 1826.

Early proof plate before letters and number; manuscript caption and notes, bold ink note with instructions to engraver.

Freycinet insisting on ethnographic and scientific detail

Early stage of an important engraving from the official account of Louis de Freycinet's voyage in the Uranie and a remarkable image, engraved after the voyage artist Jacques Arago's depiction of a Papuan. The expedition spent some time in Papuan waters and several weeks between the small islands of Waigeo and Rawak: the native of Waigeo island is depicted as a noble figure, complete with bone hair ornament, but stricken with a type of leprous ailment endemic to his region.

Early stage of an important engraving from the official account of Louis de Freycinet's voyage in the Uranie and a remarkable image, engraved after the voyage artist Jacques Arago's depiction of a Papuan. The expedition spent some time in Papuan waters and several weeks between the small islands of Waigeo and Rawak: the native of Waigeo island is depicted as a noble figure, complete with bone hair ornament, but stricken with a type of leprous ailment endemic to his region.

Freycinet, closely involved with every stage of the preparation of his voyage account, has annotated the proof engraving in bold ink with instructions to the engraver: "The general tone of this engraving is too dark; moreover the engraver hasn't succeeded in depicting the effect of the disease that the drawing represents and which has to be indicated by the small generally concentric lines which appear on the drawing and which we look for in vain here. The general colour tone of the skin of this figure has to be lowered; on the other hand, the leprous lines need to be better distinguished from the background colour."

This is a very good example of Freycinet's exceptional attention to detail and search for accuracy, graphic as well as textual: the relationship between proof and final versions demonstrates not only that precision, but also the accuracy of his description of the actual medical condition and its effect upon the skin (confirmed by modern medical descriptions of the quasi-leprous ailment ichthyosis, which does indeed produce a skin effect comparable to the look of scales on a fish). As the caption shows, the man is a native of Waigeo though when the print is finalised the caption gives him a more generic location as a native of the Papuan islands; finally, as well as the extensive revision to tone, the landscape is only sketched in at right whereas in the finished plate it goes all the way across.

Rose de Freycinet noted during their stay when they anchored between the islands that "Among the Papuans who come to barter there are a few who are horribly disturbed by a flaky leprosy, which is most disgusting, but which is said not to be contagious through touch. Just as well! Especially as these people are in the habit of shaking hands with all and sundry. Just as the English do…" (A Woman of Courage, p.69).

(Freycinet's ink annotation reads "Le ton de cette gravure est en général trop noir; et de plus le graveur ne s'est pas attaché à rendre l'effet de la maladie que le dessin représente et qui doit être indiqué par les petites lignes en général concentriques qui sont sur le dessin et que l'on cherche vainement ici. Le ton général de la peau de cette figure doit être baissé ; les lignes lépreuses doivent au contraire se mieux détacher sur la couleur locale").

Provenance: From the family of Louis de Freycinet.

Price (AUD): $8,800.00  other currencies Ref: #4504614

Condition Report