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Relation du voyage à la recherche de La Pérouse
Paris: H.J. Jansen, an VIII [1799-1800]. 2 text volumes, 4to., (290 x 215 mm.), and one folio atlas volume (529 x 376 mm.). Text: xvi, 442; 332, 113, [1] pp. Half-titles, errata page at end of volume 2 (some very light and occasional marginal spotting, very pale marginal dampstain to a few quires at the end of volume 2.) Atlas: engraved title-page, large double-paged engraved folding map by d'Houdan after J. D. Barbié du Bocage, and 43 engraved plates, numbered 2-44, by Copia, Perée, or Maleuvre (1) and printed by Dien, after Piron, Jean-Baptiste Audebert (ornithological plates), and Pierre-Joseph Redouté (botanical plates), all mounted on guards (some occasionally heavy marginal spotting, not affecting the images). Uniformly bound in early 19th-century French black calf, marbled paper boards gilt by A. Varicault of Chatellerault with his binder's ticket on the front paste-down of each text volume (extremities a bit scuffed). First edition, the text volumes published simultaneously in 8vo., of this celebrated account of the expedition sent by the French Assembly in search of the vanished La Pérouse, written by the doctor and naturalist who accompanied the expedition. Under the general command of Bruni d'Entrecasteaux, two ships bearing 219 men set sail in September 1791, proceeding round the Cape of Good Hope to the Australian coast and Tasmania, where they spent months searching doggedly but in vain for a trace of the great navigator and his party, last seen in Botany Bay in 1788. In the course of the search the ships circumnavigated Australia twice, and visited New Caledonia, the Solomon Islands, the Admiralty Islands, Tonga, New Guinea, and New Britain. The expedition was plagued by misfortune; not only was no trace of La Pérouse's party found, but a large number of crewmen perished from scurvy, which killed d'Entrecasteaux himself in the summer of 1793, soon after the death of his fellow commander Kermadec. Following the loss of its leaders, and split between royalist officers and a crew supporting the revolutionaries, the expedition dispersed. Although it failed to achieve its primary goal, the voyage was of considerable importance for the numerous important scientific observations - geographical, ethnographic, botanical, zoological and hydrographic - made throughout the region. In 1795 the expedition papers and Labillardière's botanical and zoological specimens were seized by British forces, but, at the urging of Joseph Banks and the Royal Society, were returned a year later, enabling Labillardière to be the first to publish an account of the voyage. Of particular scientific interest for his description of the Tongas, "an excellent contribution to the ethnology of that people" (Hill), Labillardière's detailed narrative includes as well the first scientific descriptions of the New Zealand flax and several other New Zealand plants, specimens of which he brought back, and appendices containing glossaries of Malay and of the native languages of Tasmania, Tonga, New Caledonia, and Waygiou (New Guinea), with tables charting the route of the Espérance. The illustrations of the atlas volume, most after Piron, include detailed depictions of native headdresses and activities (preparation of meals, fishing, dancing), ceremonial objects, tools, boats and views of the islands, four plates of birds, of which three after Audebert, and 14 botanical plates after Redouté. Along with this quarto edition, Janson published an octavo edition during the same year (two issues are known, one giving a different publisher's address). Although priority has not been established, it is likely that the more luxurious quarto edition was issued first from the presses; comparison of copies shows the impression of the engravings to be a bit darker and crisper. Sabin 38420; Ferguson 307; Hill 954 (8vo edition). Purchased at Chrisite's 9th June 2004, lot 194..
      [Bookseller: Arader Galleries]
Last Found On: 2013-01-06           Check availability:      Biblio    

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