Tigre tué en Amerique par S. A. Monseigneur Le Prince de Nassau Siegen dans son voiage autour du monde sur la Boudeuse Fregatte du Roi commandée par Monsieur le Comte de Bougainvile [sic]. BOUGAINVILLE, Jean after Francesco CASANOVA JACOBE.

Tigre tué en Amerique par S. A. Monseigneur Le Prince de Nassau Siegen…
Tigre tué en Amerique par S. A. Monseigneur Le Prince de Nassau Siegen dans son voiage autour du monde sur la Boudeuse Fregatte du Roi commandée par Monsieur le Comte de Bougainvile [sic].

Vienna: Jean Jacobe, 1787.

Mezzotint engraving 700 x 990 mm; a fine impression; framed.

Bougainville, Casanova and the Prince of Nassau

A rare and very surprising pictorial image of the Bougainville expedition: we have never seen the image before and can find no record of it. Published in Vienna, it is based on a very large painting by Francesco Casanova in the collection of Empress Catherine the Great of Russia as the caption explains ("actuellement dans la Gallerie de S.M. l'Imperatrice de la Russie, il a dix pieds de large, sur huit et demi d'haut"). Francesco Casanova (his older brother was much more famous, but not for painting) trained under Francesco Guardi in Venice, worked in Paris from 1751, becoming a member of the Academy in 1763, and exhibiting at the Salon until 1783 when he moved to Vienna. Interestingly for the history of voyage art, Philip James de Loutherbourg who painted numerous Cook-related scenes and designed a number of the theatrical pieces commemorating Cook was his pupil for a time.

A rare and very surprising pictorial image of the Bougainville expedition: we have never seen the image before and can find no record of it. Published in Vienna, it is based on a very large painting by Francesco Casanova in the collection of Empress Catherine the Great of Russia as the caption explains ("actuellement dans la Gallerie de S.M. l'Imperatrice de la Russie, il a dix pieds de large, sur huit et demi d'haut"). Francesco Casanova (his older brother was much more famous, but not for painting) trained under Francesco Guardi in Venice, worked in Paris from 1751, becoming a member of the Academy in 1763, and exhibiting at the Salon until 1783 when he moved to Vienna. Interestingly for the history of voyage art, Philip James de Loutherbourg who painted numerous Cook-related scenes and designed a number of the theatrical pieces commemorating Cook was his pupil for a time.
This very striking mezzotint depicts an exciting South American scene from Louis Antoine Bougainville's circumnavigation. It shows the dashing Prince of Nassau-Siegen firing from horseback at a jaguar. Several dogs circle the large cat as two others join the fight on horseback. Could the second French horseman be Bougainville? The expedition's ship the Boudeuse is seen to the right of the image. It has been plausibly suggested that the location is the coast of Argentina, where the expedition made landfall before heading for the Pacific.
To some extent the prince of Nassau and his presence on the Bougainville expedition represented the French equivalent to Joseph Banks's involvement with Cook's Endeavour voyage. Like Banks the prince cut a dashing figure, was extremely upper-crust, was young, had a retinue of sorts, and an interest in natural sciences. Only performance anxiety at its public nature prevented him having a lot of sex in Tahiti: whether Banks did or didn't all the humorists played this aspect up no end. When the expedition returned to Paris, Bougainville and the prince headed off to Versailles to make their reports accompanied by Aoutourou the young Tahitian who was to some extent under Nassau's wing much as Omai was under Banks's.

Price (AUD): $18,000.00  other currencies     Ref: #4011300

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