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Indepth Arts News:

"The Encounter, 1802: Art of the Flinders and Baudin Voyages"
2002-02-15 until 0000-00-00
Art Gallery of South Australia
Adelaide, SA, AU

In 2002, Australia commemorates the historic encounter between the pioneering maritime explorers Matthew Flinders and Nicolas Baudin off the south coast of South Australia in 1802. One ship was British, the Investigator, commanded by Matthew Flinders who was attempting to circumnavigate the continent and who was the first to give it the name 'Australia'. The other ship was French, Le Geographe, whose commander Nicolas Baudin had been sent by Napoleon to investigate the Antipodes.

For both the French and British in 1802 the South Pacific was as remote and foreign as it was possible to be. And the two empires, at the height of their maritime, military, economic, artistic and scientific powers, were chief rivals. When the two ships met, they cautiously identified themselves, but a friendly meeting ensued, in spite of the fact that the two countries had officially been at war. For Flinders and Baudin, their passion for their exploration and science overrode the ideologies of their nations.

The Art Gallery of South Australia presents a major art exhibition to commemorate the bicentenary of this historic meeting. The Encounter, 1802: Art of the Flinders and Baudin Voyages tells the fascinating story of the encounter through the eyes of the important artists on board the two voyages: William Westall (1781-1850) and Ferdinand Bauer (1760-1826) on the Investigator, and Nicolas-Martin Petit (1777-1804) and Charles-Alexandre Lesueur (1778-1846) on Le Geographe.

Each of the artists is important in their own right: Bauer is regarded as the greatest natural history artist of all time; Westall is Australia's first professional landscape artist; Lesueur created supremely beautiful images of our exotic marine life and Petit's portraits of Australia's indigenous people are some of the most sensitive created at the beginning of the nineteenth century.

Four years in the making, the exhibition The Encounter, 1802 presents a range of very significant works of art from British, French, Austrian and Australian collections, many of which have never been seen before in Australia. Amongst them are the first recorded images of South Australia, never seen here before, and of Australian wildlife that has since become extinct. Sketches made ashore, delicate watercolours created at sea, paintings completed on return to Europe and other materials collected on each journey have been generously lent to South Australia to mark this important bicentenary.

This is the first time that the works from each of the expeditions have been shown together. Too fragile to travel widely, these precious works of art cannot tour Australia and will be shown only in Adelaide.


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