1811 Freycinet, Louis Claude/Freycinet, Henri-Louis/Baudin, Nicolas Thomas

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Scarce black and white copperplate engraved map of Shark Bay and the first published Freycinet map of Sharks Bay from the 1801-1803 Baudin Expedition and published in ‘Voyage de Decouvertes aux Terres Australes. Historique. Atlas Deuxieme Partie Redigee par Mr L. Freycinet, Paris 1811

This was the first published Freycinet chart of Sharks Bay taken from the Historique part of his Atlas and published a year before the more widely known large detailed chart of the same area, produced in the Navigation et Geographie of the Peron/Freycinet Atlas of 1812. The latter chart detailed the complete survey of Shark Bay, noting the various soundings, the dates the various soundings, and the locations of the vessels anchorage points.  The tracks of the Naturalist, the Geographie and the Casuarina were also annotated. Three inset maps showed details of Sharks Bay from the perspective of earlier surveys by the Dutch in circa 1697, Dampier in 1699 and St Alouarn in 1772. The large chart was also issued separately at a later date with the imprint of the French Hydrographic Office.

 

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No 15. Carte de la Baie des Chiens-Marins par MM L Freycinet et Faure 1801 et 1803

Dimensions 21 × 17 cm
Published

Paris 1812

Technique

Copper plate engraving

Condition

Excellent condition

Information

With a handful of voyages to the South Pacific and Australasian regions already under their belt, the French embarked on their greatest maritime venture to date. Under the command of Nicolas Baudin and sanctioned by Napoleon Bonaparte, a substantial scientific voyage was planned with the clear view of ascertaining the viability of establishing a significant French presence in the South Sea. The French were acutely aware of the frailty of Britain's defence in the newly established colony at Sydney Cove and were keen to test the possibility of establishing outposts in the rapidly developing region.

Nicolas Baudin’s two ships, the Géographe under his captaincy with, Henri-Louis Freycinet on board and the Naturaliste under the captaincy of Hamelin with cartographer and surveyor, Louis Claude Freycinet (Henri’s brother) on board, left Le Havre on 19 October 1800. Sailing via Tenerife and sighting the Cape of Good Hope they reached Mauritius after a long six months, where shipboard quarrels and illness caused a mass defection of scientists and sailors.
Having rejigged his crew, Baudin set sail for New Holland, sighting Cape Leeuwin on 27 May and anchoring in Geographe Bay three days later. He sailed north and examined Rottnest Island and Swan River, (see the first charting of the Swan River by Herisson) but the two ships became separated on 11 June. The Géographe finally anchored at Shark Bay on 27 June, but had left by the time the Naturaliste arrived. The latter vessel stayed on in Shark Bay to make an extensive survey – including the discovery of the Vlamingh plate – while Baudin and the Géographe worked along the difficult coast past the North West Cape. The two ships ultimately arrived in Timor in August and September; tropical diseases were already causing deaths among the crew.
In November they sailed south for Cape Leeuwin where Baudin, ignoring his instructions to begin charting the south coast immediately, headed for Tasmania, making the D’Entrecasteaux Channel in early January. The two vessels began a close survey of the east coast, again becoming separated. Hamelin on the Naturaliste crossed Bass Strait and made a survey of Western Port before running for Port Jackson. Meanwhile Baudin began his survey of Terre Napoleon, meeting Matthew Flinders at Encounter Bay in April. Worn out, Baudin turned for Sydney, but chose to again round the southern tip of Tasmania, meaning that he did not arrive off Port Jackson until 17 June, his crew severely weakened by scurvy. Hamelin had actually already headed out to search for Baudin in Bass Strait, but the combination of a storm and poor provisions saw him back in Sydney a few days later, and the two ships stayed in Sydney until November. Warmly and hospitably entertained by Governor King, the French spent their time recuperating and making sense of their collections.
In Sydney, Baudin purchased a small vessel which he named the Casuarina, placing Louis de Freycinet in charge. The Casuarina, just 29 feet in length, was acquired to help make the difficult inshore surveys, and Louis’ appointment should be understood as an early notice of his skills in charting. The three vessels left Sydney together, but Baudin decided to send the Naturaliste directly back to France, and Hamelin reached Le Havre on 7 June 1803, having sailed via Mauritius.
The Géographe and the Casuarina made close surveys of King Island, Kangaroo Island and the Gulf of St Vincent (“Golfe Joséphine”), before continuing to King George’s Sound in Western Australia, whence they returned to Shark Bay and the northwest before finally reaching Timor on 7 May 1803. They made a quick return visit to the northwest coast of Australia – their third – and reached Mauritius in July, where Baudin died on 19 September. Command was given to Pierre-Bernard Milius, who had been recuperating in Port Louis where he had been left by Hamelin. The decision was made to abandon the Casuarina, and the remaining crew transferred to the Géographe, which returned home on 25 March 1804, almost three-and-a half years after they left.
Freycinet was employed, on his return, by the navy on hydrographic and chart work, and after the death of Péron was invited to complete the history of the Baudin expedition. When he published his complete atlas in 1812 he followed Péron, whose first volume had appeared in 1807, first in virtually ignoring Baudin.

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