Item #4504617 Port-Jackson, Nlle. Hollande: cérémonie préliminaire d'un mariage, chez les sauvages. Nicolas-Martin PETIT, original artist, Lerouge and Forget.

Cérémonie préliminaire d'un mariage, chez les sauvages…
Port-Jackson, Nlle. Hollande: cérémonie préliminaire d'un mariage, chez les sauvages

Paris: [Pillet aîné], 1825.

Engraving, 235 x 322mm (on sheet 350 x 500 mm).

The original version of a persistent image of Aboriginal marriage

A remarkable and somewhat mysteriously unexplained image published (as plate 104) in the Atlas Historique of the Freycinet voyage account, "Voyage autour du monde entrepris par ordre du roi... exécuté sur les corvettes de S.M. l'Uranie et la Physicienne, pendant les années 1817, 1818, 1819 et 1820". It is unclear whether the caption identifying the scene as a ceremony before an Aboriginal marriage is intended to be tongue-in-cheek and therefore derogatory, or to be anthropologically correct. In this context it is especially interesting to note that the original artist may have intended this to have been understood as depicting a violent fight (see below). Certainly, later uses of the image have tended more towards the derogatory.

A remarkable and somewhat mysteriously unexplained image published (as plate 104) in the Atlas Historique of the Freycinet voyage account, "Voyage autour du monde entrepris par ordre du roi... exécuté sur les corvettes de S.M. l'Uranie et la Physicienne, pendant les années 1817, 1818, 1819 et 1820". It is unclear whether the caption identifying the scene as a ceremony before an Aboriginal marriage is intended to be tongue-in-cheek and therefore derogatory, or to be anthropologically correct. In this context it is especially interesting to note that the original artist may have intended this to have been understood as depicting a violent fight (see below). Certainly, later uses of the image have tended more towards the derogatory.

There is further ambiguity surrounding its publication. Two earlier and original drawings developing the image, dating from the Baudin voyage of 1800 to 1804, were offered for sale by Deutscher and Hackett (Important Australian and International Fine Art, Melbourne, 28 November 2018, lots 12 and 13). Those drawings showed that it was originally intended that an image derived from them would be used in the Peron and Freycinet official account of the Baudin voyage. Interestingly, one of those drawings had as an original pencil caption, the quite blunt "[ma]ssacre d'une femme par les sauvages", which of course gives an entirely different meaning to the image as against the wording used here.

Despite the captioning describing the image as "dess." by one of the Freycinet-era artists that worked on the Uranie images in Paris, Sébastien Leroy, after an original by the Baudin voyage artist Petit, as several historians have commented, there is no record of any Baudin voyage artist having actually witnessed such a scene, which would seem rather to derive, at least in part, from a written passage on "Courtship and Marriage" in David Collins's published work, An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales (1798). The scene would have an afterlife, also enigmatic, when a version was included at the base of the famous Sydney Punchbowl, now in the State Library of New South Wales, that was commissioned and made in China in the 1820s. It also reappears in various later voyage compilations.

Condition Report: Right hand margin very slightly frayed at edge, but excellent.

Price (AUD): $2,100.00

US$1,398.71   Other currencies

Ref: #4504617

Condition Report