8.5 x 12.5 in (21.59 x 31.75 cm)
This is a c. 1835 Lauvergne / Himely view of Gorée Island, off the coast of Dakar, Senegal. Various European powers fought over this strategically located island for more than three centuries, during which it became a conduit in the Transatlantic Slave Trade. In the 20th century, the island's Maison des Esclaves became one of the world's most prominent memorials to the slave trade.
A Closer LookThis view was initially drawn by Barthélemy Lauvergne, an artist attached to the French ship La Favorite. It depicts Gorée, located about 2 kilometers from Dakar, the capital and largest city in Senegal. Gorée was the second stop of the French ship La Favorite during its 1829 - 1832 circumnavigation of the world (the first was Gibraltar, after setting out from Toulon). The ship spent a week off Gorée, when the sketch which this view is based on would have been drawn, before heading south to round the Cape of Good Hope. The prominent hilltop fort seen here, dubbed Fort Saint-Michael by the French, who built it on a foundation laid by the Portuguese and Dutch, housed the Palais du Gouverneur, which still stands.
History and Mystery Around the IslandLacking a natural source of drinking water, Gorée was not inhabited until Portuguese slave raiders and traders settled the island in the mid-15th century, seeking to take advantage of its strategic location, jutting out from the coast of western Africa, but insulated by the Cap-Vert Peninsula. Much of the island's history is uncertain, and there is debate about when and how the Dutch seized the island from the Portuguese in the late 16th century, and similarly for later changes of control, which were regular between the Portuguese, Dutch, English, and French.
Gorée undoubtedly played a role in the Transatlantic Slave Trade, but how important a role is highly debated. Disagreement particularly centers on the structure known as the Maison des Esclaves (located on the far side of the island in this view, obscured by the buildings at center), a notorious holding center for enslaved Africans bound for the Americas. Conditions were so poor at the prison that it appears many died before even reaching ships. Those who survived boarded ships by passing through an imposing gateway later dubbed the 'door of no return.'
However, the structure opened in 1776, late in the era of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Although some historians have claimed that millions of people passed through Gorée on the way to the Americas, more recent historical research suggestss that the number is likely much smaller. However, in 1962, the Maison des Esclaves was made into a museum by the newly independent Senegalese government and attained prominence as one of the first museums to the Transatlantic Slave Trade. The island's importance was further solidified when it was among the first twelve sites selected for UNESCO World Heritage status in 1978.
Therefore, the island's specific history in the slave trade has mattered less than its function as memorial to the millions of Africans, and especially those from the Senegambia region, who perished or were uprooted and transported across the Atlantic in the slave trade. Gorée now attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, including foreign heads of state, and the island is home to several other museums in addition to the Maison des Esclaves.
French Expeditions of the 1820s - 1830sLa Favorite was one of several ships sent out by the French government in the 1820s - 1830s that sought to match the achievements of similar expeditions by other countries. These voyages generally had multiple objectives, ranging from military, diplomatic, and political, to artistic and scientific. France was particularly concerned at this time about its presence in Southeast Asia, where French missionaries were active, but which was seen as under threat by expanding British interests.
The voyage of La Favorite failed to change the isolationist policies of the Nguyễn dynasty and was also especially unfortunate when it came to disease, being struck by back-to-back outbreaks of cholera and dysentery. Moreover, the ship's landing at New Zealand was misinterpreted by Britain as a French attempt to seize the islands, hastening their incorporation into Australia. But the extensive scientific and ethnographic notes taken by the crew, along with the plates illustrating places and events described in the textual account left a deep impression on French audiences.
Publication History and CensusThis view was published in 1835 in the book Voyage autour du monde par les mers de l'Inde et de la Chine de la corvette de sa Majeste La Favorite execute pendant les annees 1830, 1831, 1832…. It was sketched by Barthélemy Lauvergne, printed by Sigismond Himely, edited by Louis Auguste de Sainson, and published by Imprimerie de Finot. The view is independently cataloged as belonging to the holdings of the Australian National University and is scarce to the market, while the entire four volume work Voyage autour du monde is well-represented in the collections of major research universities.
Barthélemy Lauvergne (July 4, 1805 - November 15, 1871) was a French painter, maritime, and landscape artist active throughout the middle years of the 19th century. Lauvergne was born in Tulon and mastered drawing under Pierre Letuaire (1798 - 1885). He was immediately drawn the exotic and began to travel son after reaching adulthood - circumnavigating the world three times. He first accompanied the French naval officer Jules Sébastien César Dumont d'Urville (1790 - 1842) onboard the L'Astrolabe (1826 - 1829), then Cyrille Pierre Théodore Laplace (1793 - 1875) on La Favorite (1830 - 1832), and finally Auguste-Nicolas Vaillant (1793 - 1858) La Bonite (1836 - 1837). He also participated as an artist on Arctic voyages to Iceland, Spitzbergen, Finland, and Norway. In February of 1841 he was appointed to the Dépôt des Cartes et Plans de la Marine, where with government sponsorship, he published hundreds of finely lithographed images from his voyages - creating unique visual record of cultural interactions between European explorers and indigenous peoples. He painted a portrait of Napoleon III in 1851. Lauvergne retired to his hometown, Toulon, in 1863, and died 8 years later in 1871. Learn More...
Sigismond Himely (June 7, 1801 - 1872) was a Swiss painter, viewmaker, acquaint engraver active in Paris during the middle part of the 19th century. Hinley was born in La Neuveville, Bern, Switzerland, but moved to Paris to study painting with Copley Fielding (1787 - 1855) and Jean-Victor Bertin (1775 - 1842). He exhibited in the Paris Salons between 1824 and 1869. He is known for his work engraving aquatints for English watercolorists and his names is associated with numerous historical views, city bird's-eye panoramas, architectural illustrations, and ethnographic images, among them rare illustrations of Asia, Africa, and the Americas. Learn More...
Louis Auguste de Sainson (April 26, 1800 – 1877) was a French artist, lithographer, and engraver. He worked as a draughtsman on the ship Astrolabe in its circumnavigation of the globe in 1826 – 1829, and then spent nearly five years preparing prints for the publication of the account of the expedition. Afterwards, he participated in the publication of prints about two other expeditions. Learn More...
Voyage autour du monde par les mers de l'Inde et de la Chine de la corvette de sa Majeste 'La Favorite' execute pendant les annees 1830, 1831, 1832..., (Paris) 1835.