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La Pérouse
, c. 1830s

by N Mague (engraver) and Blaisot (publisher)

engraving on paper (sheet: 29.5 cm x 20.9 cm, image: 19.3 cm x 12.8 cm)

Jean-François de Galaup la Pérouse, Comte de la Pérouse (1741–1788), navigator, distinguished himself in French navy campaigns against the English in Hudson Bay in 1782. Selected to lead the French expedition seeking to ratify Cook’s discoveries in the Pacific and clarify geographical mysteries in the Bering Sea, he left in command of the Boussole and L’Astrolabe in 1785. After touching at Alaska, California, Macao, Manila, Korea, Sakhalin Island and Kamchatka (where he dispatched his journals) he headed for New Holland. In Samoa eleven of the Astrolabe’s crew were killed, but he made no reprisals. He was seen off the coast of Botany Bay on 24 January 1788, and came ashore two days later. After staying six weeks in the area that now bears his name, he sailed away – never to be seen again. A search led by Bruny d’Entrecasteaux in 1791 proved fruitless; only in 1828 was it established that he had wrecked at Santa Cruz. The four-volume Voyage De La Pérouse Autour du Monde, the account of his journey as far as Kamchatka, was published in Paris in 1797 and translated into English a few years later.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased with funds provided by L Gordon Darling AC CMG 2009
Accession number: 2009.59