The art of discovery

Jacques Arago (1790-1855) and Alphonse Pellion were employed as artists on Louis de Freycinet's scientific expedition (1817-1820). It was their task to create visual records of the people and places encountered during the voyage which were used to illustrate the published account of the expedition.

Pencil and watercolour sketches were done on the spot, with notes taken from life so that detail could be added later. These field drawings were used to prepare the final artwork for the illustrations which were etched onto copper plates prior to printing. Often, as in this example, original drawings were combined or rearranged. The printed stipple and line etching was then coloured in, by hand, to match the notes recorded on the original field drawing.

The Freycinet expedition's discoveries were published as an eight volume work, Voyage autour du monde between 1824 and 1844. Contributing to this work were Freycinet and each of the scientists on board the expedition.

 > View the plates from Atlas historique by J.S. Arago, A Pellion etc, volume 3 of Voyage autour du monde catalogue link


Sauvages de la Nouvelle Galles du Sud, c.1819, by A. Pellion
Drawings and etchings. PXD 923