1771 Bouganville Large Antique World Map - Global Route of Exploration

Cartographer : Louis Antoine de Bougainville

  • TitleDévelopement de la route des vaissaux du roy La Boudeuse et L’Étoile autour du monde
  • Ref :  42015
  • Size:  24in x 11 1/2in (610mm x 295mm)
  • Date : 1771
  • Condition: (A+) Fine Condition

This large finely engraved original antique World map showing the global voyage of Louis Antoine de Bougainville’s route in the ships the Boudeuse and the Etoile was published inBougainville’s 1771 edition of Voyage autour du monde, par la fregate du roi La Boudeuse, et la flute L'Etoile en 1766, 1767, 1768 & 1769 Paris.

Bougainville’s voyage - the first French circumnavigation - was of immense importance in terms of the impetus it provided to a renewal of France’s colonial empire following territorial losses suffered to Britain in the Seven Years’ War: it opened up the Pacific for French expansion. Yet what cannot be overstated is the impact that Bougainville’s own vivid and romanticised descriptions of the Pacific - specifically Tahiti - had on the French public imagination, her writers, artists and thinkers. The utopian ideal of the noble savage living in an Earthly Paradise owes much to Bougainville’s response to his encounter with the Tahitian culture and landscape. Even though he was not the first European to reach Tahiti - the Englishman Samuel Wallis had done so one year earlier - Bougainville’s account is fundamental to the formation of the European romantic vision of the South Seas.

Bougainville had the imprimatur of the French government to undertake a voyage of exploration which would seek to gather scientific, geographical and cultural information. For example, his narrative includes the first vocabulary of the Tahitian language, which is also the first written glossary of any Polynesian language. The advancement of knowledge had not been the principle objective of French voyages of the preceding period, which were motivated by commercial interests.

After entering the Pacific through the Straits of Magellan early in 1768, Bougainville went in fruitless search of the fabled ‘Davis Land’, which was rumoured to exist to the west of Chile. He then took possession of the Tuamotu Archipelago and Tahiti for France, providing in his narrative an extensive, detailed and enthusiastic account of Tahiti. Crossing the Pacific he made landfall first in Samoa and then the New Hebrides. From the island of Espiritu Santo, with the thought of possibly discovering the east coast of New Holland, he struck out due west, a course which would have allowed him to reach the coast of Queensland. Fatefully, he was unable to navigate through the Great Barrier Reef, and sailing north instead, he passed through the Solomons (naming Bougainville for himself) and on to Batavia. Bougainville was to learn in Batavia of the exploits of the navigators Wallis and Carteret, both of whom had sailed across the Pacific a short time earlier. However, it was Bougainville’s narrative which was to cause a sensation in France upon its publication, in some part because of its contribution to scientific and geographical knowledge but primarily for the account of Tahiti, which was to have such an enduring effect on the European imagination. (Ref: M&B; Tooley)

General Description:
Paper thickness and quality: - Heavy & stable
Paper color: - White
Age of map color: -  
Colors used: -  
General color appearance: -  
Paper size: - 24in x 11 1/2in (610mm x 295mm)
Paper size: - 22 1/4in x 9 1/2in (570mm x 240mm)
Margins: - Min 1in (25mm)

Margins: - Light age toning in margins, small tears to left fold margins
Plate area: - Folds as issued
Verso: - Folds as issued