Skip to main content

, (1807-17)

by Nicolas-Martin Petit

engraving (sheet: 33.2 cm x 24.4 cm, plate-mark: 31.7 cm x 24.2 cm)

Nicholas Martin Petit sailed with Nicolas Baudin on the expedition of the Géographe and the Naturaliste in late 1800. The scientific field of anthropology was in its infancy – the French had founded the Society of the Observers of Man in 1799. Having embarked as a fourth-class gunner’s mate, Petit, who had had some graphic arts training, became one of the expedition’s two illustrators when the official artists quit. From June to November 1802, the expedition was delayed in Sydney while its two ships were repaired. During this time Petit completed portraits of people of the Cadigal, Dharawal, Gweagal, Kurringai and Darug language groups of the Sydney Harbour region. While the sitters’ names appear to be noted on the works, it is possible that the inscriptions merely reflect French misinterpretation of the Aborigines’ communications with them.

The portrait of ‘Nourou-gal-derri’ is an engraving from the first edition of Francois Peron’s Voyage de decouvertes aux terres australes, the official account of the Baudin expedition published in Paris in 1807. He is pictured ‘advancing for battle’.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2009
Accession number: 2009.85