Louis Auguste de Sainson (After), Jacques-Hippolyte van der Burch (Lithographer), Alphonse Bichebois (Printer)

Vue du Village D'Aïambo sur les hauteurs de Dorey (Nouvelle Guinée)

Vue du Village D'Aïambo sur les hauteurs de Dorey (Nouvelle Guinée) by Louis Auguste de Sainson, Jacques-Hippolyte van der Burch, Alphonse Bichebois

Artwork Detail

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)

[34.] Vue du village D'Aïambo sur les hauteurs de Dorey (Nouvelle Guinée), plate 122

It was with great relief that the Astrolabe’s crew reached Dorey Harbour, toward the western end of the island of New Guinea. The boat had been at sea for a month in largely uncharted waters and the sailing had been arduous. D’Urville had previously stopped in Dorey Harbour three years earlier while on board the Coquille, at which time the sheltered waters had been chartered. Consequently, the crew were able to enjoy some rest; only needing to replenish supplies. The naturalist and artist on board were however keen to explore the rich subject matter they encountered. They explored the shoreline as well as going into the uplands, but did not venture far as they found the rainforest impenetrable. A striking feature of these two prints are the houses which stand on stilts, both on the water’s edge village of Dorey and in the upland village of Aiambo.

Vue du Village D'Aïambo sur les hauteurs de Dorey (Nouvelle Guinée)
Louis Auguste de Sainson, Jacques-Hippolyte van der Burch, Alphonse Bichebois
Production date
259 x 419 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 2010
Accession no
No known copyright restrictions
New Zealand Art
Display status
Not on display

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