Engraved portrait of Louis Claude de Saulces de Freycinet (1779-1842).

[Paris]: before 1810, perhaps closer to 1804.

Circular portrait within rectangular engraving, signed in the plate "Roy del. & sculp."; plate size 102 x 79 mm on sheet 171 x 129 mm.

"The Commander whose calm features you behold": Péron on Freycinet

A remarkable engraving: the only published portrait of the great explorer Louis de Freycinet, whose two voyages -- one under the command of Baudin in 1800-1804 and the other his own command of the Uranie in 1817-1820 -- occupied his entire life, either in voyaging itself or in the arduous task of preparing and publishing the great illustrated narratives and geographical and scientific results of the voyages, the last volume of which came out only in 1844, two years after his death.

A remarkable engraving: the only published portrait of the great explorer Louis de Freycinet, whose two voyages -- one under the command of Baudin in 1800-1804 and the other his own command of the Uranie in 1817-1820 -- occupied his entire life, either in voyaging itself or in the arduous task of preparing and publishing the great illustrated narratives and geographical and scientific results of the voyages, the last volume of which came out only in 1844, two years after his death.

Very few images of Freycinet have survived other than the depictions of him as a detail in a handful of drawings made on the voyage (and in a couple of engravings that derive from these). This is the default image of the explorer, engraved by the professional artist Sébastien Leroy (sometimes Le Roy, ?-1832). It depicts Louis as a young man and very likely dates to shortly after the return of the Baudin voyage in 1804. The portrait has a Latin inscription by François Péron as his friend and "fellow navigator". Péron and Freycinet had sailed together on the Baudin voyage. Since Péron died in 1810 the image most likely dates from anywhere between 1804 and 1810, and since it shows a young man, and Freycinet turned 30 in 1809, we would suggest that the portrait must have been made soon after the return of the voyage in 1804.

The engraving has only been very rarely offered for sale, and must have been made for very limited distribution within the family. An example was given by the present Baron de Freycinet to the National Library quite recently. It is dated in the Library's catalogue as c. 1812 but an earlier date seems probable.

The engraved portrait of Louis matches in format one of Rose de Pinon, often reproduced and the only known depiction of her; Freycinet would marry her in 1813 when she was 19. Since the two portraits match in format and style we would suggest that the portrait of Rose must indeed have been made at around that time, but surely to match an existing portrait of Louis – since, if the pair of portraits were made to celebrate, for example, their engagement, they would hardly have used the dedication by Péron, by then dead for five years or more. Péron's Latin dedication reads "Ultima perscrutans ignota que littora mundi, quam cernis placidam faciem, Dux, gessit eamdem. F. Péron amicus et co-navigator" ["The Commander whose calm features you behold, investigated the world's most distant, unknown coasts. F. Péron, friend and fellow navigator"]. It clearly only has significance at or around the earlier date.

Provenance: Freycinet family archives, dispersed in the twentieth century; private collection (Sydney)

Price (AUD): $4,750.00  other currencies Ref: #4504882

Condition Report