By BEAUTEMPS-BEAUPRE, Charles-Francois , 1807

Atlas du voyage de Bruny-Dentrecasteaux...

  • Author: BEAUTEMPS-BEAUPRE, Charles-Francois
  • Publication place: Paris
  • Publisher: au Dépôt Général des Cartes et Plans de la Marine et des Colonies
  • Publication date: 1807
  • Physical description: XXXXXXFirst edition folio (610 by 460mm) atlas volume only, title, contents and 39 engraved charts and coastal views, title, contents and first chart with a few minor tears to margins skilfully repaired, half calf over brown marble paper boards, spine gilt.
  • Inventory reference: 1957


From 29 September 1791 to 27 October 27 1793, Charles-François Beautemps-Beaupré (1766-1854) set sail on the frigate La Recherche. Led by Antoine Bruny d’Entrecasteaux. The expedition’s primary objective was to find Lapérouse by following his route to New Holland (Australia). The expedition took three years, much shorter than it had taken Cook and Lapérouse to travel the same distance (Lapérouse’s expeditions were projected to last four years, from 1785 to 1789). However, this would be a more arduous expedition, amplified by the secondary objective of mapping every contour of the continent called, “New Holland,” which, in 1824, became known as “Australia.”

“That will be the final destination of Sieur d’Entrecasteaux’s expedition in search of Lapérouse’s frigates. However, if these ships have indeed been swallowed by the sea, if the ocean has left no debris on any beaches, if after exhausting every possible avenue Sieur d’Entrecasteaux has no choice but to abandon this goal, as critical as it is, he shall at least have the satisfaction and glory of having made an immeasurable contribution to the perfecting of the field of cartography and the expansion of man’s knowledge. Sieur d’Entrecasteaux shall draw precise maps of every coastline and isle he encounters. If these places have already been explored, he shall verify the accuracy of his predecessors’ maps and descriptions.” (Fleurieu, Mémoire du Roi pour servir d’instruction au sieur d’Entrecasteaux, September 16, 1791).

The ships eventually came within reach of Vanikoro (the Salomon Islands), where shipwrecked survivors from La Boussole and L’Astrolabe were still living. D’Entrecasteaux died of scurvy off the coast of Java on July 20, 1793.

After spending two years perfecting his art during every day of the voyage, Beautemps-Beaupré became the premier specialist of modern hydrography. In his work he skilfully combined the art of drawing with the precision of science. It was the first time that an expedition employed a full-time hydrographer. By and large, the task of surveying coastlines and sea bottoms had previously been entrusted to naval officers, for whom it was but one of many tasks. D’Entrecasteaux quickly realized the unique chance his expedition had of having such a talented specialist aboard. The more the search for Lapérouse seemed hopeless, the more Beautemps-Beaupré had time to fulfill his scientific and artistic mission. In 25 months, Beautemps-Beaupré drew 32 maps, at a monthly rate vastly greater than any other expedition of his time.