Tableau des découvertes du Capne. Cook & de La Pérouse. Jacques GRASSET DE SAINT-SAUVEUR.
Tableau des découvertes du Capne. Cook & de La Pérouse.

Tableau des découvertes du Capne. Cook & de La Pérouse.
Tableau des découvertes du Capne. Cook & de La Pérouse.

Paris: circa 1795.

Engraved aquatint with original handcolouring, 440 x 530 mm. (sheet size), mounted and framed.

From ethnology to fashion

Rare and alluring hand-coloured engraving of the islanders of the Pacific, composed of twenty-four groups of inhabitants from new lands revealed through the voyages of Captain James Cook and La Pérouse. St-Sauveur's print has been long considered one of the most romantic and elegant depictions of ethnological subjects, and is much desired for its decorative qualities.

Rare and alluring hand-coloured engraving of the islanders of the Pacific, composed of twenty-four groups of inhabitants from new lands revealed through the voyages of Captain James Cook and La Pérouse. St-Sauveur's print has been long considered one of the most romantic and elegant depictions of ethnological subjects, and is much desired for its decorative qualities.

Bernard Smith discusses the importance of St-Sauveur's costume studies in disseminating this exotic imagery: 'The engravings published in Cook's Voyages provided new visual information about many previously unknown peoples, and greatly enlarged Europe's knowledge of the family of man. Joppien has shown how important encyclopedias of costume and 'gallery of man' books were in this process of popular dissemination. But as artists copied the engravings so they altered them still further in the direction of European pre-conceptions, the anthropological and ethnographic intentions of the originals being diverted increasingly to fulfil the demands of taste and the intrinsic needs of decoration. A fascinating example is the hand-coloured etching by St.-Sauveur, the finest of the costume encyclopaedists of the late eighteenth century…' (European Vision and the South Pacific, p. 113).

Grasset de Saint-Sauveur, was born in Montreal in 1757 and died in Paris in 1810. Like other artists of the period he was captivated by Pacific discoveries and here he shows figures from Nootka Sound on the northwest coast of America, Prince William Sound in Alaska, as well as Easter Island, Hawaii, Unalaska, Tahiti and Ulitea. As Forbes notes in the Hawaiian National Bibliography, Grasset's engraving was separately issued and was the only such large image by him to depict the peoples of the Pacific.

Beddie, 557; see Forbes, 'Hawaiian National Bibliography', 271 and 281.

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