The Friends of the Lapérouse Museum held their Annual General Meeting last Saturday November 26 at the Lapérouse Museum, Botany Bay at 11am. The meeting Chaired by our President Nicole Forrest Green returned to her role addressed the highlights of an active, successful year that was 2016 and included raising over $5000 at a dinner held in October at Parliament House Sydney for the benefit of the Lapérouse Education Fund. Also in attendance were The Hon. Matt Thistlethwaite, MP Federal Member for Kingsford Smith, Professor Ivan and Mrs. Barko, as well as Mrs. Carole Roussel founding Member of the Friends with her sister Mrs. Angela Raymond.
The meeting concluded with an animated talk from University of Sydney Anthropologist Professor Grant McCall who addressed the similarities and differences between French and English navigators of the 18th century with an emphasis on the Pacific and interesting idea that the Comte de Lapérouse and Captain Arthur Phillip did actually meet in secret whilst in Australia and as a consequence this resulted in Lapérouse handing official documents and records over to the English for safe passage back to Europe; another interesting observation Professor McCall made was that the English used Polynesian navigators on their ships which made a huge difference in rough or troubled seas, but that the French did not; had they done so the experiences encountered around the perilous Solomon Islands and in particular Vanikoro may have ended otherwise.
Professor McCall offered our President a wonderful donation for the Museum at the conclusion of his talk – a GRASSET DE SAINT SAUVEUR, Couloured Reproduction Print of the Pacific Discoveries of Captain Cook and M. de Lapérouse. The Museum’s curator Ms. Elizabeth Broomhead is in the process of assessing where this unique piece can be added to enhance its value and our wonderful French story that we’re proud of.
Refreshments were served at the conclusion of the meeting where Committee Members past and present were thanked by the President for their contribution, support and interest.
2017 looks to be an exciting year ahead with a proposed visit to the Museum (currently under discussion) by Australia’s Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Tim Barrett AO CSC RAN.
Thus the French-Australian maritime partnership is alive and well.
COOK & LA PÉROUSE EXPEDITIONS: GRASSET DE SAINT SAUVEUR, Jacques. Tableau des Découvertes du Captaine J Cook, & M. de La Pérouse Copper-engraved plate with contemporary hand coloring. 24 numbered costume plates of peoples of the Pacific, their artifacts, and homes set in landscapes, arranged in three panels, numbered key below, surrounded by narrow pictorial border.
The print is associated with Grasset de Saint Sauveur’s exceedingly rare two-part work, consisting (Histoire Abrégée des découvertes des Captaines Cook, Wilson, La Pérouse… Paris, 1797-1798; and a separately issued portfolio (Tableaux des principaux peuples… Paris, 1798; see Forbes 281 & Colas 1301). Five large-format plates (Europe, Asia, Africa, America, and the Pacific) appeared in the portfolio, the present engraving being the last. The print in its original state, never folded into a book and was never intended to be a piece of litterature. Later versions of the print were lithographed.
The image presents twenty-four separately identified groups of two, three, or four inhabitants from the different regions and islands of the Pacific Basin, including Hawaii, the Pacific Northwest Coast, Tahiti, New Zealand, South America, the Philippines, etc. This intriguing print was born out of the consuming European need to know and understand the new lands and new peoples of the Pacific explored by Cook, La Pérouse, and their contemporaries. Grasset de Saint Saveur satisfied that need by creating a virtual microcosm of the Pacific that is at once informative and aesthetically pleasing. The viewer is invited in to observe exquisite miniature scenes offering an intimate glimpse of the exotic people, clothing, material culture, landscapes, pastimes, and familial and social groups of lands newly discovered. The indigenous people are depicted as dignified and graceful. The sinuous pictorial border incorporates flora, fauna, human figures, and artifacts of the Pacific Basin.
Canadian artist, writer, and diplomat Jacques Grasset de Saint Sauveur (1757-1810), developed an abiding interest in indigenous people early in his life, leading him to initiate his encyclopedic series of illustrated works of all the people of the world. Born in Montreal at the beginning of the Seven Years’ War, he went to live in France after the conquest of New France by the British. He studied at Sainte-Barbe College in Paris, later embarked upon a diplomatic career, and died in Paris.