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Dumont D'Urville's third voyage to the Pacific was on board the Astrolabe, which was accompanied by the corvette Zélee. The ships departed from Toulon in September 1837 returning to France in November 1840, spending March to May of that year off the coast of New Zealand. This included 9 days from 11-20 March at the Auckland Islands, 350km south of New Zealand, where Louis Le Breton, the ship's surgeon, made the view which this lithograph is based on. At first glance it appears to be a largely domestic scene, a makeshift washing line is strung up next to an abandoned hut and tent. However, on closer examination the scientific purpose of the voyage is clearly demonstrated in the two small figures using astronomical equipment to survey their environs, with the masts of their ships and some of their crewmates in the background. The lithograph has been delicately handcoloured, with even the clothes on the washing line picked out in different shades.
Le Breton's original drawing for the work came to light in a library in Brittany. Roger Collins notes in particular the absence of the surveyors in the pencil sketch, reflecting "It appears that Le Breton was touched by the loneliness, and the transient presence of puny man, whereas the 'revised version' of this scenes affirms the functions and the achievements of the expedition." (Collins, 1982, p.99)
- Vue de l'observatoire (aux Iles Aükland)
- Production date
- hand coloured lithograph
- 326 x 403 mm
- Dessine par L.Le Breton. lithe par P.Blanchard - Paris. Gide Editeur. Gide Editeur Paris. 177.
- Credit line
- Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 2006
- Accession no
- No known copyright restrictions
- International Art
- Display status
- Not on display
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