Rare French artworks go on show at WA Maritime Museum

  • Two exhibitions celebrating the role of early French explorers in WA open at the Maritime Museum in Fremantle
  • The Art of Science exhibition offers exquisite artworks from more than two centuries ago, featuring the first European portraits of Aboriginal people and some of the earliest European views of Australian plants and animals
  • The Return to Australia exhibition celebrates the 200th anniversary of Louis de Freycinet’s landing at Shark Bay, and his wife’s incredible adventure as a stowaway

The achievements of French explorers and scientists who visited Western Australia two centuries ago are going on show today at the WA Maritime Museum in Fremantle.

French Explorers in WA consists of two unique exhibitions showing concurrently at the museum.

The first exhibition, The Art of Science: Baudin’s Voyagers 1800-1804, presents exquisite paintings and drawings from Nicolas Baudin’s expedition to Australia.

The exhibition includes some of the first European portraits of Aboriginal people and some of the earliest European views of Australian plants and animals.

Much of it is being presented to Australian audiences for the first time. The works are from the Museum d’Histoire Naturelle, Le Havre, along with works from Australian partners.

The second exhibition, Return to Australia: Freycinet 1818, centres on Louis de Freycinet’s 1817-1820 scientific expedition and marks the 200th anniversary of his return to Shark Bay on September 12, 1818.

It also tells the remarkable story of Rose de Freycinet, who stowed away on board her husband’s ship, thus becoming the second woman to circumnavigate the world and the first to complete a written account. Her journal will be featured in the exhibition.

As stated by Culture and the Arts Minister David Templeman:

“With the Art of Science exhibition, we are fortunate to be able to see firsthand items never before seen in Australia.

“The collection includes some of the first European portraits of Aboriginal people and some of the earliest European views of Australian plants and animals.

“Likewise, the Return to Australia exhibition sheds light on the remarkable journey of Louis and Rose de Freycinet, including the diary she kept.

“We are indeed fortunate to have these items and the opportunity to see them at the WA Maritime Museum on this special 200th anniversary of de Freycinet’s visit to Shark Bay.”

As stated by Fremantle MLA Simone McGurk:

“These two exhibitions will bring visitors to our city and help boost the Fremantle economy.

“I encourage everyone to come down and see these remarkable artefacts and enjoy our lovely port side city.”

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