Auction 139, Lot 622

"View of Macao in China", La Perouse, Comte Jean F. Galoup, de

Subject: Macao, China

Period: 1798 (circa)


Color: Black & White

9 x 6.8 inches
22.9 x 17.3 cm

Jean-Francois de Galoup, Comte de La Perouse commanded a French scientific expedition to the Pacific in 1785-88. Recognized as one the foremost naval commanders and navigators in France, he was selected by King Louis XVI to complete Captain James Cook's exploration of the western Pacific. The British Admiralty provided scientific equipment to measure variations in magnetic compass readings and with the latest instruments for determining longitude. La Perouse explored the coasts of the Gulf of Alaska and northwestern North America in search of the fabled Northwest Passage. After leaving America his expedition continued on to Asia where he explored from Macao to Kamchatka and the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific. La Perouse was meticulous in sending copies of his extensive logs, maps and surveying information via other ships as well as overland. La Perouse's last contact was in the spring of 1788 with a British ship in Botany Bay, Australia. The expedition was never heard from again. Considered one of the greatest French voyages, the French Government decided to publish the story of the expedition when it became clear they had been lost. An English edition was published in London.

This is a beautiful early view of Macao showing the outer harbor and the Praya Grande from the terrace of the convent of Sao Francisco. That Portuguese influence can be seen in the foreground where there is a collection of monks and nuns, one of which is talking to a man in traditional Chinese wardrobe. Presumably this symbolizes the mixing of cultures on this tiny island just off the coast of China. In the background there are numerous buildings, a church, mountains and boats in the harbor, which is notably lacking any foreign ships in the bay.

King Louis XVI appointed La Perouse to complete Captain James Cook's exploration of the western Pacific. While his crew's voyage ended abruptly due to shipwreck, most of his maps and views survived. They were fortunately passed on to a British ship so that his observations could make it back to Paris more quickly.


Condition: A

Some minor toning along one fold, else fine. Issued folding.

Estimate: $200 - $250

Sold for: $150

Closed on 2/15/2012