Apr 13, 2023 - Sale 2633

Sale 2633 - Lot 2

Price Realized: $ 1,625
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 2,000 - $ 3,000
(ALASKA.) Prot & Dissart, engravers; after Crepin. Naufrage de Mm. de Laborde sur les Canots de la Peyrouse au port des François dans la Californie. Engraving, 21 1/2 x 29 1/2 inches; 3 small closed punctures in image with tape repairs on verso, 2 other small tape repairs in margins, generally a bright and fresh example. Paris: Ostervald, printed by Bassand, circa 1806

Additional Details

A dramatic scene from the doomed French scientific expedition under La Pérouse. Two ships explored the Pacific, stopping in Chile and Hawaii before reaching the Alaskan coast. They explored what is now known as Lituya Bay in the northern part of the Alaskan panhandle, naming it Port des Français. It remains a remote location, more than 50 miles by boat from the nearest small settlement. Three small boats were sent into the bay for further exploration, but upon returning to the open water on 13 July 1786, were caught up in heavy currents. As one of the boats foundered, a second boat led by brothers Edouard and Ange de Laborde attempted to come to their rescue, but they too went under the waves. 21 men were lost, but the third boat was able to reach the ship safely. This print is dedicated to a well-known surviving brother of the Labordes, Alexandre de Laborde.

The La Pérouse expedition continued on to California, Japan, Russia, Samoa, and Australia, before seemingly disappearing into the Pacific in 1788. Their fate was a mystery for many years, but it is now generally believed that they were shipwrecked on the island of Vanikoro and died while attempting to escape on a makeshift vessel.

We trace two institutional examples of this print in the United States (Bancroft Library and Yale), both in lesser condition; only two others traced at auction. This is presumed to be the second state, with two added imprint lines in the lower margin: "Imprimé par Bassand" and "A Paris chez Ostervald l'ainé Rue du petit Lion St. Sulpice, No. 20," as seen on the Yale copy but not the Bancroft or the two other auction copies.