La Pérouse, Carte du Grand Océan ou Mer du Sud...
JEAN FRANÇOIS DE GALAUP lA PÉROUSE
Published 1797, Paris
Size: 20" X 28"
An important and rare map published in Atlas du Voyage de La Pérouse that traces the voyage of La Pérouse in the frigates La Boussole and l’Astrolabe that originated from France in 1785. This voyage went on to explore the Pacific Northwest of America via the Cape Horn, and then back to Canton, the Philippines, the Sea of Japan, Kamchatka and ultimately to Port Jackson and Botany Bay in Australia where La Pérouse died in 1788. In fact, it was only in 2005 that evidence was confirmed that the shipwrecks near Vanikoro in the Santa Cruz group of islands were those of the La Boussole and l’Astrolabe. A further mission to retrace the fate of La Pérouse and his crew was sent in 2008, thus underlying the continued interest in one of the premiere explorers of modern times.
It is argued that this map is of the South Sea is important as it displayed “the most up to date cartography, especially along the Northwest Coast of America, Northeast Coast of Asia, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific.” It should be noted that La Pérouse’s voyage, as well as those of Captain James Cook, are among some of the most renown scientific and exploratory achievements of the 18th Century. For example, La Pérouse voyage provided important cartographic mapping of the Alaskan and Californian coasts as well as the coast of British Columbia and was interested in exploring those parts of the Pacific that Cook had not been able to complete a few years earlier. La Pérouse’s voyage of exploration, beyond its mere scientific and cartographic dimensions, was also interested in establishing economic and political footholds and trade relations for France in this important geo-political region.
As such, La Pérouse’s map, as with those of James Cook, are important reminders of the sacrifices that early explorers endured for the sake of scientific and cartographic knowledge.