The women of Baudin’s voyage come on board

poster-pairA poster that illuminates the part played by women in Nicolas Baudin’s voyage of discovery has been presented to the Flinders University library.

Adelaide historian Anthony J Brown, author of Ill-Starred Captains: Flinders and Baudin, formally presented the poster on behalf of Martine Marin, president of Les Amis de Nicolas Baudin, who originally produced the poster for a conference in Belgium. (Mr Brown [left] is pictured with librarian Dr Gillian Dooley.)

Feminine influences on the voyage were diverse, with no less a personage than Napoleon’s wife, the Empress Josephine, being a driving force behind the commissioning of Baudin’s voyage. Many of the animals and plants collected on the voyage would end up in Josephine’s private collection at Malmaison.

The poster also incorporates and describes a number of “fresh and realistic” sketches of the Aboriginal women of Tasmania and New Holland made by ship-board artist Nicolas Petit, as well as a portrait of the one of the slave women who served at a feast in West Timor for the French crew, recuperating after charting the Western Australian coast.

Finally, the poster briefly describes the strange history of transported convict Mary Beckwith, who, after only a year in New South Wales, left as a 17-year old passenger on Baudin’s Le Geographe, apparently at the behest of the jealous wife of the colony’s Judge Advocate.

A professional translator and editor of Les Amis’ quarterly newsletter, Ms Marin was keen to donate a copy of the poster to enlarge the University’s extensive collection of material related to the voyages of both Flinders and Baudin.

“I’m really honoured to know my poster will have a new life in such a prestigious university,” Ms Marin said.

Les Femmes de l’Expedition Francais aux Terres Australes will be held in the library’s Special Collections.

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