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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The Gallery’s Acknowledgement of Country, and information on culturally sensitive and restricted content and the use of historic language in the collection can be found here.

François Péron

c. 1805
Jean Henri Cless and Conrad Westermayr (engraver)

engraving on paper (sheet: 18.5 cm x 11.3 cm, plate-mark: 13.1 cm x 8.6 cm, image: 9.4 cm x 6.9 cm)

François Péron (1775–1810), naturalist and explorer, served as a soldier from 1792 to 1794, in which period he was imprisoned and lost the sight of one eye. After working as the town clerk in his home town, Cérilly, he studied medicine in Paris and in 1800 volunteered for Baudin’s expedition to the western and southern coasts of Australia. He hoped to observe the peoples encountered on the way, but was appointed a trainee zoologist instead. Peron and Baudin did not enjoy a happy relationship. Alongside artist Charles-Alexandre Lesueur, Peron gathered some 100,000 zoological specimens, which still comprises the largest Australasian natural history collection. He also conducted important experiments on deep water temperature, and wrote about Indigenous Tasmanians of the south east (Péron is credited with inventing the term ‘anthropology’). When Baudin died, Péron took over the official account of the expedition, Voyage de Découvertes aux Terres Australes, doing no favours to Baudin’s memory therein. Among his numerous other publications was a secret memo urging a French takeover of Port Jackson, to be achieved with the aid of disaffected Irish convicts. He died of tuberculosis at 35; Louis de Freycinet finished his account of the voyage. Peron is commemorated in François Péron National Park, located some 720 kilometres north of Perth.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2010

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Jean Henri Cless

Conrad Westermayr (age 40 in 1805)

Francois Peron (age 30 in 1805)

Subject professions

Science and technology

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On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

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The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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