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A classic of travel literature: the expedition to Australia and surrounding islands
in search of La Pérouse, with the 14 botanical illustrations drawn by Redouté

LA BILLARDIERE, Jacques Julien Houtoe de.
Relation du voyage à la recherche de La Pérouse, fait par ordre de l'Assemblée constituante, pendant les années 1791, 1792, et pendant la 1ere. et la 2e. année de la république Françoise.
Paris, Hendrik J. Jansen, An VIII [= 1799/1800]. 2 volumes. 8vo. With extensive tables at the end giving daily data from the ship's log and vocabulary lists for various indigenous languages. Contemporary half calf, marbled endpapers, red edges.
With: (2) Atlas pour server à la Relation du voyage à la recherche de La Pérouse ...
Paris, F. Schoell, 1811. Large folio (51 x 34.5 cm). With an engraved title-page, a large folding map (50 x 73 cm) showing the route taken by the expedition. Also with 43 further plates (ca. 45 x 30 cm), Contemporary half tan sheepskin, "maroquin" chemical-marbled sides. XVI, 440; 332, 109, [3] pp.; [1], 44 engraved ll.
€ 10,000
The first(?) octavo edition of a famous account of an important expedition to Australia and the surrounding islands, published in the same year as the first quarto edition, together with the very rare 1811 second edition of the atlas volume, printed from the plates of the first edition, which had also appeared in 1799/1800. Jacques La Billardière or Labillardière (1755-1834), one of the expedition's naturalists, gives not only a report of the expedition's anthropological and natural historical findings, but also a personal account of an attempt to solve a mystery that began on 10 March 1788 when the French explorer Jean-François Galaup de La Pérouse sailed out of Botany Bay, New South Wales, and was never seen again by Europeans. His disappearance was a matter of great national concern in France.
In 1791, the French National Assembly sent a rescue expedition under the command of Antoine Raymond Joseph Bruni d'Entrecasteaux, who failed to find any trace of the missing expedition, but his ships visited southwest Australia, Tasmania, the north island of New Zealand and the East Indies. La Billardière, Claude Riche and Étienne Pierre Ventenat (assisted by a gardener, Félix Delahaye) collected zoological, botanical and geological specimens, and described the customs and languages of the local indigenous Australians and other peoples.
"The expedition made several important contributions to geographical knowledge, and the investigations of the naturalists into productions of countries visited were of special value" (Ferguson). Most of the illustrations were drawn by Jean H. Piron, but the 14 botanical illustrations were drawn or painted by the great botanical artist Pierre-Joseph Redouté (1759-1840).
Text volumes in very good condition. Binding of the atlas volume slightly rubbed and worn, corners bumped, a fold in the title-page and some small tears and marginal stains, but with all the prints in good condition, each with three prickings in the foot margin. Brunet 10866; Edward Duyker, Citizen Labillardière: a naturalist's life in revolution and exploration (2003); Ferguson 308; Hill 955 note; Hocken, New Zealand, p. 28 note; Howego, E26 (ed. not specified); Kroepelien Bibl. Polynesiana 697; McLaren, Pérouse in the Pacific 51; Nissen, ZBI 2331; Sabin 38420; Stafleu & Cowen 4070; Wickersham 6613a? (misdated "an vii" & could be 8vo or 4to ed.); cf. Cox I, p. 68; II, p. 307 (4to ed.); Wantrup 132 (4to ed.)
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Related Subjects:

Australia, new zealand & pacific  >  Australia & New Zealand | Cartography & Exploration | Natural History
Cartography & exploration  >  Australia, New Zealand & Pacific | Voyages & Travel
Natural history  >  Botany (General) | Zoology (General incl. Faunas)