The first images of animals from Australia
Captain Cook’s reports of his three voyages were illustrated with two plates of Australian animals.The artists had never seen these creatures before and found it hard to draw true likenesses.
The first French edition of Cook’s reports was published in Paris in 1771, the same year as Cook’s originals appeared in London. There were many subsequent editions; the plates shown here come from a compendium of the 3 voyages. The illustrations were re-engraved (since the French did not have access to the English plates) but follow the originals as closely as they could. Because French was much more widely read in Europe than English, their circulation was much greater.
Please click on the images below to see an enlargement.
ZA 024 Un opossum de la Terre Van Diemen. [A possum from Van Diemen’s Land]. Excellent condition. $A 200
ZA 022 Animal appellé Kanguroo trouvé sur la côte de la Nouvelle Hollande [Animal called Kangaroo found on the coast of New Holland]. This engraving is based on a painting by George Stubbs, the most famous animal artist of his time,. This image of a kangaroo was used by countless authors to illustrate their own books about Australia. Excellent condition. $A 600
Captain Cook’s discoveries in the Pacific prompted successive French governments to send expeditions to explore the region. Scientific research was an important element in the brief for these voyages and on their return each commander produced a book of their adventures and discoveries..They accompanied the reports of their discoveries with “atlases” of sumptuous zoological, botanical and sociological illustrations. They were meticulously detailed, often including close-ups of parts of the creatures and plants depicted. They were finely drawn and equally finely hand coloured by teams of young ladies, who carefully followed models prepared by the scientists.
The plates they produced are not only of scientific and historical interest, they are also very beautiful, fascinating and decorative.
ZA 034 Nouvelle Hollande, Ile Bernier Kanguroo ȧ bandes. [Striped Kangaroo from Bernier Island in New Holland] Bernier Island is lies at the entrance of Shark Bay in Western Australia and the modern name of the animal is Hare Wallaby. Image by Charles Lesueur, plate 57 from the atlas of Voyage de découvertes aux terres australes [Voyage of discovery to the Southern Lands – the official report of the expedition led by Nicolas Baudin]. Published by Arthur Bertrand, Paris, 1824 . Like the kangaroo pictured in Cook’s account of his voyage, this image was copied as the reference image of kangaroos in dozens of publications throughout the 19th century. 242 x 357 mm (plate size) 278 x 362 mm (paper size). Original hand colour, excellent condition with a few tiny spots in the margins. $A 750
EX 028 Phalanger Quoy. [Grey Cuscus]. Antique copper engraving, plate no 6 from the Atlas Zoologique folio accompanying Voyage autour du monde fait par ordre du Roi, sur les corvettes de Sa Majesté l’Uranie et la Physicienne, pendant les années 1817, 1818, 1819 et 1820 by Louis-Claude de Saulces de Freycinet, published in Paris in 1824. 320 x 238 mm (plate size). Fine original hand colour, very good condition, a few unobtrusive spots. $A 250.
EX 029 Phalanger tachete. [Spotted Cuscus] Antique copper engraving, plate no 7 from the Atlas Zoologique folio accompanying Voyage autour du monde fait par ordre du Roi, sur les corvettes de Sa Majesté l’Uranie et la Physicienne, pendant les années 1817, 1818, 1819 et 1820 by Louis-Claude de Saulces de Freycinet, published in Paris in 1824. 320 x 238 mm (platemark). Fine original hand colour, very good condition, a few unobtrusive spots. $A 250.
ZA 027 Kanguroo Laineux: (Kangurus laniger. N.), [Red Kangaroo]. Plate 9, drawn by A. Prévost, engraved by Coutant from the Atlas Zoologique folio accompanying Voyage autour du monde … by Louis-Claude de Saulces de Freycinet, published by Langlois in Paris in 1824. 245 x 320 mm (plate mark), 310 x 491 mm (paper size). Hand-coloured; a few tiny and unobtrusive foxing spots, otherwise excellent condition. $A 300