Voyage de Découvertes aux Terres Australes…
Voyage de Découvertes aux Terres Australes… Sur les corvettes le Géographe, le Naturaliste, et la goélette le Casuarina, pendant les années 1800, 1801, 1802, 1803 et 1804.

Paris: Imprimerie Impériale, 1807-1816.

Two volumes, quarto, and large quarto atlas in two parts containing 41 full-page engravings, many in original handcolouring, and 14 fine charts; the text volumes uncut; a fine set in modern quarter morocco.

Official account of the Baudin expedition

First edition: the Baudin-Freycinet expedition, one of the most important early explorations of Australia. This is the rare and important official account of the Baudin voyage to Australia and the Pacific, sent out by the French government in 1800 with orders to complete the cartographic survey of the Australian coast. Commanded by Nicolas Baudin, the expedition left France in 1800 and sailed via Mauritius to the Australian coast in the region of Cape Leeuwin, arriving in May 1801. Péron sailed as naturalist on the expedition and Freycinet as cartographer. The vessels Géographe and Naturaliste sailed north from Cape Leeuwin. The expedition surveyed the coast and made observations on the natural history and inhabitants, until they crossed to Timor. After three months the two ships set out for Tasmania, the party continuing to make detailed surveys, and went on to Sydney. They then undertook a complete survey of the southern coast and an examination of the northern coast before returning to Mauritius where, near the end of 1803, Baudin died. It was a celebrated voyage, which brought back to France the most important collection of natural history specimens in the history of the French Museum, as well as a wealth of geographical and other information.

First edition: the Baudin-Freycinet expedition, one of the most important early explorations of Australia. This is the rare and important official account of the Baudin voyage to Australia and the Pacific, sent out by the French government in 1800 with orders to complete the cartographic survey of the Australian coast. Commanded by Nicolas Baudin, the expedition left France in 1800 and sailed via Mauritius to the Australian coast in the region of Cape Leeuwin, arriving in May 1801. Péron sailed as naturalist on the expedition and Freycinet as cartographer. The vessels Géographe and Naturaliste sailed north from Cape Leeuwin. The expedition surveyed the coast and made observations on the natural history and inhabitants, until they crossed to Timor. After three months the two ships set out for Tasmania, the party continuing to make detailed surveys, and went on to Sydney. They then undertook a complete survey of the southern coast and an examination of the northern coast before returning to Mauritius where, near the end of 1803, Baudin died. It was a celebrated voyage, which brought back to France the most important collection of natural history specimens in the history of the French Museum, as well as a wealth of geographical and other information.

The Atlas Historique contains a series of wonderful coloured plates, some of the most beautiful of early views of Australia and fine natural history images, while the superb series of portraits of Aborigines represents the most compassionate yet honest portrayal of the displaced natives to be seen in any of the early voyage accounts. These exceptional illustrations are mostly by the remarkable artist Charles-Alexandre Lesueur: "Lesueur's scientific work runs parallel to artistic work of great importance. He was at one and the same time draughtsman and painter, naturalist and landscape artist. His talent was recognised in France in his own lifetime, by the award… of the silver medal of the Société des Beaux-Arts…" (Baudin in Australian Waters, p. 26).

The narrative of the expedition was begun by Péron, and completed by Freycinet after Péron's death. A tacit agreement between Péron and Freycinet, both of whom disliked Baudin, kept the commander's name mostly absent from the account of the expedition. The French and English had completed their circumnavigations of the Australian continent at approximately the same time, but Flinders' imprisonment by the French on Mauritius meant that it was this French account which contained the first complete and detailed chart of the Australian continent to appear in print, one of the most beautiful, as well as one of the most famous of all maps of Australia. It also had immense geo-political significance with virtually the entire southern coast of Australia labelled "Terre Napoléon", indicating French colonial ambitions. Controversial even today, the map is often said to have been at least partly based on Flinders's charts and papers seized by the French. Much of the Baudin coastal exploration was commemorated by the numerous place-names along the Australian coast, especially in Tasmania and Western Australia.

This set takes the form in which the book is usually seen, comprising the full narrative account and the Atlas Historique with its superb coloured plates. The important Atlas Hydrographique with accompanying text volume were separately published and distributed by a different bookseller: they are only very rarely found accompanying the official narrative.

Davidson, 'A Book Collector's Notes', pp. 108-10; Hill, 1329; Plomley, The Baudin Expedition and the Tasmanian Aborigines; Sharp, 'Discovery of Australia', pp. 232-9; Wantrup, 78a & 79a.

Price (AUD): $32,000.00  other currencies     Ref: #4504309

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