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Louis-Antoine de Bougainville, n.d.

Antoine Maurin, Emile Lassalle (lithographer) and Lemercier & Cie, Paris (printer)

lithograph (sheet: 25.0 cm x 19.4 cm)

Louis-Antoine de Bougainville (1729–1811), explorer, was an outstanding soldier, sailor and navigator who was gifted, too, in many intellectual spheres. A protegée of Madame de Pompadour, in the early 1760s he founded a French outpost on the Îles Malouines (now the Falkland Islands) which was a useful waystation for French trading vessels until it was ceded to Spain in 1767. He is best-remembered, however, for his command of the Boudeuse and the Étoile on a voyage around the globe between 1766 and 1769. The Bougainville expedition travelled to the Pacific via the Strait of Magellan, visiting Tahiti, Samoa, the New Hebrides and New Guinea. The vessels hit heavy seas close to the coast of north Queensland, meaning that Bougainville missed the chance not only to survey any of the Great Southern Land, but to claim it in the name of France in line with his instructions to ‘erect poles bearing the arms of France’ and ‘draw up Acts of Possession in the name of His Majesty’ on any seemingly uninhabited land he came across. In 1772 he became secretary to Louis XV; after serving in the French fleet supporting the American Revolution, he survived both a court-martial and the French revolution, was made a count by Napoleon 1 and lived out his life on his estate in Normandy.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Ted and Gina Gregg 2012

Accession number: 2012.59

Currently not on display

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