Maps & Views, America

Exceptional engraving showing the shipwreck off the coast of Alaska during the La Perouse expedition

Exceptional engraving showing the shipwreck off the coast of Alaska during the La Perouse expedition
TITLE Naufrage de MM. de Laborde sur les canots de La Peyrouse au port des François dans la Californie. Dédié à Monsieur Alexandre de Laborde leur frère
AUTHOR La Perouse, Jean-François de Galaup, Count of; Crepin, Louis-Philippe
PUBLICATION DATE 1810
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION

[1810]. Paris. Ostervald l’aine, for Louis Prot and Michel Dissard. Copper engraving. (370 x 516 mm). Excellent condition.[1810]. Paris. Ostervald l’aine, for Louis Prot and Michel Dissard. Copper engraving. (370 x 516 mm). Excellent condition.

DESCRIPTION

A remarkable scene after a painting of Louis-Philippe Crepin, representing the shipwreck of Edouard and Ange de Laborde on 13 July 1786, off the coast of Alaska, during the expedition of La Perouse, one of the most significant journeys of exploration conducted by the French in the 18th century.

 

The expedition took place onboard the Boussole and the Astrolabe, it´s goal was to explore the Pacific and assess the Spanish settlement in California; whilst en route to Kamchatka, La Perouse was the first to safely navigate the Japan Sea. After passing through Cape Horn, the expedition sailed towards the Northwest of America, arriving to the coast of Alaska in July 1786, discovering a magnificent bay dominated by mountains and surrounded by glaciars, which he goes on to name Port-des-Français, today Lituya Bay, staying there for almost a month.

 

The bay was rich in natural resources, and was frequented by the Amerindian population of the area, with whom the French conducted trade on several occasions; La Perouse soon envisioned the potential for the fur trade.

 

The subject of this scene is a dramatic episode occurred on 13 July 1786, when La Perouse sent a detachment of officers to sound the bay in three small vessels (two biscayennes and a small canoe); despite his recommendations for caution, Lieutenant Descure ventured too close to the pass, his biscayenne was engulfed by the tide, the second biscayenne –which had the Laborde brothers on board- suffered the same fate when attempting to rescue the first one, only the small canoe escaped, due probably to it´s stability. In all, 21 sailors perished in the shipwreck.

 

Dedicated to the brother of the Laborde brothers, who died in the shipwreck, Alexandre de Laborde, author of several works on France, Spain, and Austria. At the bottom of the engraving, there is a narrative of what occurred in the shipwreck.

 

The author, Louis-Philippe Crepin, was a pupil of Joseph Vernet and Hubert Robert, he also authored the painting portraying Dumont D´Urville and the sailors of the corvette Astrolabe paying homage at the La Perouse memorial on the island of Vanikoro.

 

Extremely rare, both in the market and institutionally; we locate copies at Yale and the California State Library in the United States, and one in France.

PRICE $4500