Nicholas Baudin’s ships, Géographe and Naturaliste, embarked from Le Havre, France in October 1800 for the southern continent carrying an impressive contingent of scientists and scientific assistants. Lavishly funded by Napoleon Bonaparte, the expedition’s agenda was the discovery and study of the natural sciences, underpinned by new ideas and philosophies relating to reason and the rights of man. In 1800 our southern coast was the ‘unknown coast’ ―the last chunk of the continent to be mapped.
The Art of Science exhibition showcased over 60 original drawings and paintings created by Baudin’s artists Charles-Alexandre Lesueur and Nicolas-Martin Petit during the voyage of 1800-1804. Other objects displayed included Baudin’s chronometer and, the copper plate used to print the first complete map of Australia ever published (on loan from the National Maritime Museum in Paris), and the Fair Copy of Baudin’s sea log (on loan from the French National Archives). This was the first time these objects had been displayed in Australia.
The Art of Science was exhibited at the South Australian Maritime Museum from 30 June 2016 until December 2016. The exhibition is touring five national venues until December 2018. Over 350 original artworks on loan from the Museum of Natural History in Le Havre will tour the country, with a different suite of paintings displayed at each venue.