French paintings of Australia

Lagostrophus fasciatus (Banded Hare Wallaby) by Pron and Lesueur (1807). Photo: Alain Havard – Ville du Havre.

Sally Pryor, 19th century French paintings of Australia to travel to six Australian museums, The Canberra Times, 19 May 2015

Tucked away in a museum collection in northern France is an exquisite collection of 19th century sketches of Australian scenes.

They were made by French artists during Nicolas Baudin’s 1800s exploration of Australia, at a time when this country was barely even an idea in the heads of the French.

And soon, for the first time ever, a selection of these images will be displayed in Australia as part of a deal clinched between the Museum of Natural History in Le Havre and six Australian institutions.

In Canberra yesterday to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Museum of Australia, which will host the exhibition in September 2017, Mayor of Le Havre Edouard Philippe said while the collection was not well known in France, it was a “treasury” the people of Le Havre cherished.

“Owning a treasury is good. Sharing a treasury is even better,” he said.

“So we decided that we, with six of the most important cultural institutions in Australia, would organise an exhibition that would allow and make possible for people in Australia to discover these treasures.”

The drawings will also be shown at the South Australian Maritime Museum in Adelaide, the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney, the Western Australian Museum in Perth, the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery in Launceston, and the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery in Hobart.

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