Louis Auguste de Sainson (After), Jacques Arago (Lithographer), Joseph Lemercier (Printer)

Vue de la plage de Tikopia

Vue de la plage de Tikopia by Louis Auguste de Sainson, Jacques Arago, Joseph Lemercier

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)

[36.] Vue de la plage de Tikopia, 173

D’Urville was anxious to visit the island of Tikopia as the previous year information had been discovered there about the fate of his countryman La Pérouse, whose ship had been assumed lost in the Pacific in the late 1780s. He spent several days there seeking further intelligence and during this time, a number of the crew including de Sainson went ashore. De Sainson recorded the striking landscape with high rocky cliffs tumbling into the sea and steep beaches. In this view, small groups of Tikopians engage with the Europeans who have come ashore. After several days d’Urville proceeded to Vanikoro where the site of La Pérouse’s shipwreck was found.

Vue de la plage de Tikopia
Louis Auguste de Sainson, Jacques Arago, Joseph Lemercier
Production date
326 x 494 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

To find out which artworks are available for print requests and reproduction please enquire here. This service only applies to select artworks in the Gallery's collection.