Louis Auguste de Sainson (After) Antoine Maurin (Lithographer) Alphonse Bichebois (Printer)

Tonga-Tabou. 1. Un Mataboulai de Palou 2. Vaï-totaï 3. Koulivaïlé 4. Tahofa II 5. Finaou

Tonga-Tabou. 1. Un Mataboulai de Palou 2. Vaï-totaï 3. Koulivaïlé 4. Tahofa II 5. Finaou by Louis Auguste de Sainson, Antoine Maurin, Alphonse Bichebois

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The Astrolabe under the command of Jules-Sébastian-César Dumont d’Urville departed from France on 28 March 1826, returning on 1 April 1829. Amongst other places the voyage took in the western, southern and eastern coasts of Australia (referred to as Nouvelle Hollande), the upper South Island and east coast of New Zealand, Tonga, Fiji, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. Just over two months of the expedition were spent in New Zealand, from 10 January 1827 when landfall was made off the West Coast to 19 March when the ship set sail from the Bay of Islands for Tonga.

De Sainson as official artist to the voyage made numerous illustrations, as described by his Captain on return to France ‘His portfolio contains no fewer than 182 views, landscapes, scenes and pictures; 153 portraits, 112 plates of dwellings, monuments, costumes, arms and utensils, and 45 coastal profiles, sketches of trees, etc.’ (Collins, 1997, p.13) From these, selections were made for the Atlas Pittoresque to accompany the official account, which included 32 illustrations of New Zealand.

While the publishing model for voyages of exploration of the Captain’s official account and an atlas of illustrations was established by Cook’s third expedition, the Atlas to the Voyage de la corvette l’Astrolabe was unique in that it was the first such publication to use lithography to reproduce the plates. Indeed this innovative usage of the, relatively new, medium was used to promote the publication in its Prospectus.

Academic Roger Collins recognises the skill of the lithographers involved in the project, remarking that de Sainson’s original sketches demonstrate he ‘was not an outstanding draftsman’. Indeed his ‘reputation owes much to the skills of his interpreters.’ (Collins, 1991, p23)

[22.] Tonga-Tabou. 1. Un Mataboulai de Palou 2. Vaï-totaï 3. Koulivaïlé 4. Tahofa II 5. Finaou, plate 82

Ethnographic portrait plates are included throughout the Atlas representing the various places the Astrolabe stopped as it journeyed through the Pacific. Some of the subjects are named, often chiefs and their relatives, while others remain anonymous. Particular attention is paid to physiognomy, adornments, hairstyles and tattoo. Other plates detail clothing, along with body adornments.

Title
Tonga-Tabou. 1. Un Mataboulai de Palou 2. Vaï-totaï 3. Koulivaïlé 4. Tahofa II 5. Finaou
Artist/creator
Production date
1833
Medium
lithograph
Dimensions
509 x 330 mm
Inscription
PL.82 [UR]. De Sainson pinx [LL] Maurin lith [LR]. Tonga-Tabou. 1. Un Mataboulai de Palou 2. Vaï-totaï 3. Koulivaïlé [4. omitted] Tahofa II 5. Finaou [LC]. J Tastu Editeur [LL] Lith de Bichebois aîné, rue de la Bibliothèque, 4 [LR].
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 2010
Accession no
2010/5/22
Copyright
Copyright Expired
Department
International Art
Display status
Not on display

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