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Voyages Botanical Christine Johnson


Voyages Botanical Christine Johnson

Solar plate engravings


Voyages Botanical was first exhibited at the Alliance Française de Melbourne, Australia 30 October – 29 November 2014 Published by Christine Johnson Melbourne, Australia cjart@optusnet.com.au +61 (0)409 454 054 www.christinejohnsonartist.com © Christine Johnson 2014 © All original images copyright the artist Historical material has been reproduced with the permission of the State Library of Victoria, Melbourne, the Natural History Museum, London, the National Library of Australia, Canberra and the State Library of New South Wales, Sydney. Images of the artist’s works are by the artist. This catalogue is copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purposes of private study, research, criticism or review as permitted under the Copyright Act, no part may be produced by any process without written permission. Writers Morag Fraser, writer Christine Johnson, artist Robert Heather, State Library of Victoria Editing Margot Jones, State Library of Victoria Eric Noël, writer Design Wendy Bayliss, Bayliss Design + Illustration Printing Fishprint, Brighton East, Victoria Cataloguing-in-Publication details are available from the National Library of Australia. ISBN 978-0-9941795-0-0 Front cover Christine Johnson, Chorizema illicifolia, Solar plate engraving, 2014 This exhibition was made possible with the generous support of the State Library of Victoria, Baldessin Press and Eric Noël.


Contents

Foreword – Robert Heather

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Preface5 Essay – Morag Fraser

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Diplolaena grandiflora Desert rose

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Xerochrysum bracteatum Golden everlasting

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Dampiera stricta Blue dampiera

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Billardiera scandens Climbing apple berry

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Ceratopetalum gummiferum Christmas bush

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Chorizema illicifolia Holly flame pea flower

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Chamelaucium unicatum Geraldton wax flower

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Brunonia australis Native cornflower

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Lechenaultia biloba Blue leschenaultia

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Grevillea banksii Red silky oak

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Biography50 Acknowledgements51 References52


Foreword

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he State Library of Victoria’s Creative Fellowships program is at the heart of the Library’s commitment to support the work of Victoria’s creative communities. The program encourages innovative ways to explore and use the Library’s extensive collections to create new works for the future.

Christine Johnson took up a Fellowship in 2012 and this project, now realised as an exhibition and book, demonstrates the way in which this program can provide opportunities for artists to create beautiful new works inspired by research in the Library’s collections. Combining her research skills with a finely tuned aesthetic sense Christine has brought to life the journals, notebooks, drawings and maps of European and Australian explorers in a unique way. The Fellowship also provided Christine with the opportunity to discover new ground in her work. With the Baldessin Press, she learned new techniques and processes for her artistic practice, which she used to create this series of solar plate engravings. Christine organised her own residency at the Press, but she saw it as an opportunity to create a new connection between the Baldessin Press and the State Library of Victoria. This has led to our new combined residency which is being offered to our Fellows in 2014. We thank Christine, Tess Edwards Baldessin and artist Rick Amor for their generosity in making this creative opportunity possible. The outcomes from our Fellowships take many different forms and it is wonderful that this exhibition is being hosted by our longstanding partner the Alliance Française de Melbourne, whose delightful exhibition space is one of the hidden treasures of this city. I hope you enjoy this exhibition and look forward to seeing more works from Christine’s ongoing artistic journey. Robert Heather Manager, Collection Interpretation, State Library of Victoria

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Preface

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OYAGES BOTANICAL is Christine Johnson’s exploration of the untamed treasures of Australia’s vast native flower garden as it was first seen by the early botanists and illustrators who visited the continent. Johnson says, ‘When the early explorers first encountered this continent in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, it must have seemed to them like an immense unclassified museum, preserved for millennia by its sheer isolation. What followed was a golden period in natural history publishing.’ Drawing on early botanical illustrations and other works in the State Library of Victoria’s Rare Books Collection, the artist’s aim through her Creative Fellowship at the Library was to blend art with science, cartography, and excerpts from explorers’ journals to tell a story about the early years of European exploration of Australia by way of the flowers that were collected on the expeditions. Johnson viewed original illustrations by Sydney Parkinson, Pierre-Joseph Redouté, Ferdinand Bauer and others, held in the Library’s collection, and has created delicate and beautifully realised solar plate engravings of wildflowers – powerful symbols of the vulnerability and fragility of Australia’s natural environment. Since early 2013, Christine Johnson has also been working as artist in residence at Baldessin Press, in St Andrews, Victoria, printing the Voyages Botanical series. The same light that nourishes plants also creates the image on a solar plate. The plates are then inked and printed by hand using a traditional etching press. The Voyages Botanical collection comprises 30 images: A Series – 10 multi-layered solar plate engravings 34 x 29 cm (limited edition of 12) B Series – 10 flower images drawn from living specimens 18 x 16 cm (limited edition of 12) C Series – 10 details from early botanical art engravings 9.5 x 7.5 cm (open edition) Edition numbers 1 – 5 are available only as a full set of 30 images, presented in a custom-made Solander Box. 5


Voyages Botanical

– solar plate engravings by Christine Johnson

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hen art and science coincide the result can be exhilarating and transformative, as printmakers, always with a foot in both worlds, surely understand. The impulse to explore, to discover, to apprehend the new, or see the old anew must find a technique, a method and a form to embody and convey those deep imaginings. And when it’s found, eureka! Artist Christine Johnson has long drawn inspiration from the natural world. Her childhood home with its Edna Walling garden marked her, as did the Kodachrome transparencies of its exotic flowers, taken by her father, a fine amateur photographer. The nine-year-old girl who saw these photographs projected onto a large screen and absorbed their radiant beauty in the dark, is still present in the mature artist. She is still looking to hold that moment: ‘Flowers are perfect for painting because they transmit light – they’re conveyors of transcendence’, she says. When Johnson was awarded a Creative Fellowship at the State Library of Victoria in 2012 she found herself in sympathetic company: travelling with the European explorers, scientists and artists – exemplars of an enlightened age – who ventured to the unmapped and mysterious great southern land, and who often built mutually supportive alliances as scientists, despite the conflicts in which their nations were embroiled. She knew names: Dampier, Flinders, Cook, Banks, La Pérouse, Labillardière, D’Entrecasteaux, Baudin and Péron, but now, with their journals, notebooks, reports, drawings and maps to hand in the Library’s Rare Books Collection, she began to fathom the depth and significance of their explorations. She began to trace their routes and intersections. She learned how important Mauritius (the Ile de France) was to those undertaking such long voyages, as both a vital port – for supplies and fresh water – and an historical site. Baudin died there. Matthew Flinders was imprisoned there. She grew familiar with individuals, like the young botanical artist, Sydney Parkinson, who came with Banks and Cook, but, who, like Baudin, perished before getting home: ‘I was astonished by their audacity and their courage. They became real people to me.’

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The meticulous and beautiful drawings of the botanical artists – our legacy from that enlightened time – became, in their faithfulness to the strange new forms encountered, the material and spur for Johnson’s own explorations: ‘A passion for nature leaps off the pages . . . A sense of reverence and awe is palpable in their words and rekindles my own sense of wonder at the unique and precious botanical riches of the continent.’ Because her experience was layered – discovery upon discovery – so Johnson’s art had to adapt to reflect the diverse sources firing her imagination. From William Dampier’s 1699 Shark Bay botanical records she took the Desert rose (Diplolaena grandiflora), and developed a method – a hybrid of solar plate engraving and photogravure. This allowed her to integrate her charcoal drawings of the flower (so direct, elemental and light-infused) with historical text, exquisite map fragments, and images of those faithful early drawings of plants never before been seen by European eyes. She worked with Sydney Parkinson’s drawing of the blue Dampiera stricta, and with botanical master-artist (and favourite of Empress Josephine), Pierre-Joseph Redouté’s rendering of the orange-pink pea flower, Chorizema illicifolia. In the eloquent art that results, national barriers collapse, disciplines come together and flowers re-assume their rightful place in art and ecology – as symbol and specimen, and as precious survivors in a world that regards our natural environment too lightly. Johnson admired the unusual friendships, collegial spirit and far-sightedness of the men she drew upon. She noted that the English First Fleet offered support to La Pérouse at Botany Bay in 1788. The Baudin voyagers were supplied at the Port Jackson colony when they arrived there, almost dead from scurvy, in 1802. She saw a legacy of the Baudin expedition – one that might have saved many lives had it been heeded – still available to us in Baudin’s and Péron’s detailed, prescient and humane study of Tasmania’s Indigenous population. And Joseph Banks, famous for founding the English Royal Society, restored Labillardière’s plant collections to France after they had been confiscated, and formed a lasting personal association with Labillardière himself. 7


‘Enthousiastes sans frontières’, Johnson dubs them. She sought out similar enthusiasts, mentors and collaborations when, as artist in residence at Baldessin Press, she worked with Silvi Glattauer on the photogravure technique, and with printmaker and fellow flower devotee, Susan Baran. These early botanists had to re-educate their eyes and think afresh. When Johnson moved from Melbourne’s leafy East Malvern suburb to an Alistair Knox mudbrick house (his first) in the Lower Plenty bush, she too had to adjust her eye and find a new palette in the dry, delicate flora of her new garden and in the eucalypt shimmer of the distant hills. She had to expand her aesthetic to uncover a source of inspiration in the tiny, resilient flowers that William Dampier, three hundred years before, had observed and admired for their unique beauty: ‘unlike any I had seen elsewhere’. Johnson’s prints celebrate that beauty, ancient but still new, and alert us to its fragility. Her art meshes hope and caution just as it brings science into the service of an artistic vision and art into the realm of serious thought – thought about value, environment, international cooperation and identity. Morag Fraser am Writer, former editor of Eureka Street magazine, and chair of the boards of Montsalvat and of the Australian Book Review

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Voyages Botanical


Diplolaena grandiflora Desert rose

Diplolaena grandiflora (A Series) Solar plate engraving (three plates) created from a drawing by the artist from a living specimen, over-printed with text, a map and botanical art published in William Dampier’s journal. Image 34 x 29 cm, paper 56 x 47 cm

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Diplolaena grandiflora Desert rose

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he first known botanical record of the Desert rose, Diplolaena grandiflora, a shrub endemic to Western Australia, was made by the British explorer William Dampier in 1699 when he came ashore at Shark’s Bay in search of fresh water.

Though William Dampier was not a trained botanist, his carefully preserved specimens of the Desert rose and many other plants have miraculously survived and are today held in a collection at Oxford University – some 300 years later. The plant genus Dampiera was named after him. The detailed description of the Desert rose by botanist John Ray in A Voyage to New Holland in the Year 1699, and the illustration in Dampier’s journal, came nearly a century before the Linnean system for plant classification was introduced in 1789. Ray wrote, Diplolaena grandiflora (C Series) Solar plate engraving created from pages of William Dampier’s journal. Image 9.5 x 7.5 cm, paper 25 x 21 cm 12


Binding, map and title page from William Dampier’s journal, A Voyage to New Holland (published 1703).

Of what genus this shrub or tree is, is uncertain, agreeing with none yet described . . . It has a very beautiful flower, of a red colour . . . Dampier’s diaries, written some 70 years before the arrival of Captain James Cook on the eastern side of the Australian continent, were to inspire a generation of European adventurers, naturalists and enthousiastes sans frontières, with Dampier’s meticulous observations a valuable reference point for voyages to Australia that followed. The blossoms of the different sort of trees were of several colours, as red, white, yellow etc . . . but mostly blue and these generally smelt very sweet and fragrant . . . There were also besides some plants, herbs and tall flowers, some very small flowers, growing on the ground, that were sweet and beautiful, and for the most part unlike any I had seen elsewhere. Diplolaena grandiflora (B Series) Solar plate engraving created from a drawing by the artist from a living specimen. Image 18 x 16 cm, paper 40.5 x 34 cm 13


Xerochrysum bracteatum Golden everlasting

Xerochrysum bracteatum (A Series) Solar plate engraving created from the original copper-plate engraving of Sydney Parkinson’s drawing, from Joseph Banks’ Endeavour journal, and a background image by the artist. Image 34 x 29 cm, paper 56 x 47 cm

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Xerochrysum bracteatum Golden everlasting

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t was Sir Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander who made the first scientific recordings of the Golden everlasting in 1770 at Bustard Bay, north-eastern Australia, during the voyage of Captain Cook on the HMS Endeavour. Detailed drawings of the Golden everlasting, or Paper daisy, were then made by the young and very talented Sydney Parkinson, a Quaker and a Scotsman, who worked tirelessly throughout the voyage of the Endeavour, drawing with great sensitivity, aesthetic beauty and observational accuracy the numerous specimens amassed by Banks and Solander. During the course of the voyage, Parkinson managed to produce 674 sketches and 269 unfinished drawings before his untimely death at sea in January 1771. He was just 26 years old. Overwhelmed by the amount of new specimens, Parkinson could only sketch

Xerochrysum bracteatum (C Series) Solar plate engraving created from a drawing by Sydney Parkinson. Image 9.5 x 7.5 cm, paper 25 x 21 cm 16


Title page from Sydney Parkinson’s journal, A Journal of a Voyage to the South Seas in his Majesty’s ship, the Endeavour (1784). Francois-Joseph Sandmann painting of Napoleon Bonaparte at Saint Helena. Pierre-Joseph Redouté’s illustration of the Golden everlasting, from Aimé de Bonpland’s Description des Plantes Rares Cultivées à Malmaison et à Navarre (1813).

and partially colour-in the significant portions of each plant portrait before it wilted and lost its colour, with his work completed later by others. The 18th and 19th centuries were a golden period for natural history publication, however Parkinson’s illustrations were not published until the 1980s, under the title of Banks’ Florilegium. The Golden everlasting is easily cultivated from seed and was grown by Empress Josephine of France at her garden at Malmaison. The flower was illustrated by French botanist PierreJoseph Redouté as Xeranthemum bracteatum for Ventenat’s large deluxe publication Jardin de la Malmaison. Seed from the Golden everlasting was also taken by Napoleon Bonaparte when he was exiled on the island of St Helena where it now grows wild. The Golden everlasting . . . takes on a new meaning. Xerochrysum bracteatum (B Series) Solar plate engraving created from a drawing by the artist from a living specimen. Image 18 x 16 cm, paper 40.5 x 34 cm 17


Dampiera stricta Blue dampiera

Dampiera stricta (A Series) Solar plate engraving created from a drawing by the artist from a living specimen, over-printed by a drawing by Sydney Parkinson and a map of the La PĂŠrouse voyage. Image 34 x 29 cm, paper 56 x 47 cm

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Dampiera stricta Blue dampiera

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ir Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander collected specimens of the Blue dampiera when they landed at Botany Bay in April 1770. Sydney Parkinson’s sketch of the plant remains unpublished and is in the Natural History Museum in London. The Blue Dampiera is named in honour of William Dampier and his description of it from Shark’s Bay, Western Australia, nearly 100 years prior. It would certainly have been in full bloom when French explorer Jean-François de Galaup La Pérouse arrived at Botany Bay in January 1788 surprising the English as the First Fleet was preparing to leave for Port Jackson. The two ships of the French expedition, the frigates La Boussole and L’Astrolabe, caused much consternation, given that Britain and France were at war at the time. This however seemed to be a mere technicality for committed scientists

Dampiera stricta (C Series) Solar plate engraving created from a drawing by Sydney Parkinson. Image 9.5 x 7.5 cm, paper 25 x 21 cm 20


Sydney Parkinson’s outline drawing of Dampiera stricta, made during Captain James Cook’s first voyage across the Pacific, 1768–1771. Image © The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London. Title page of JeanFrançois de Galaup La Pérouse, A Voyage Round the World (1798).

documenting new lands and their flora and fauna. In this spirit of scientific co-operation at Botany Bay, La Pérouse wrote in his journal that ‘Europeans at that distance from home were all countrymen . . .’ The La Pérouse expedition, commissioned by Louis XVI, was the most expensive and grandest of the French scientific voyages to date. Great expectations were held for the fruits of its discoveries and its collections of natural history. La Pérouse, already three years into his voyage, had been sent to Botany Bay to observe the new British settlement and penal colony. However, after leaving there in March 1788, the two French frigates were never seen again. Maps of the voyage show its path abruptly stopping at Botany Bay. It was not confirmed until the 1820s that the La Pérouse expedition had foundered on a reef off the Solomon Islands. Dampiera stricta (B Series) Solar plate engraving created from a drawing by the artist from a living specimen. Image 18 x 16 cm, paper 40.5 x 34 cm 21


Billardiera scandens Climbing apple berry

Billardiera scandens (A Series) Solar plate engraving created from a drawing by the artist and botanical art by George Raper (1788). Image 34 x 29 cm, paper 56 x 47 cm

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Billardiera scandens Climbing apple berry

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he Climbing apple berry was first drawn by artist George Raper, who sailed as midshipman on the Sirius, flagship for the First Fleet that landed at Port Jackson in 1788. Unlike voyages of discovery that were of scientific intent, the First Fleet was a voyage to transport convicts and therefore had no official artists on board. However, Raper had with him a very good set of paints, and had the opportunity to paint wildflowers that were in bloom while the Sirius was undergoing maintenance from June to November in Sydney Harbour. This drawing by George Raper, and many others, were only rediscovered in the estate of the 6th Earl of Ducie after his death in 1991. It is now in the Ducie Collection of First Fleet Art in the

Billardiera scandens (C Series) Solar plate engraving created from text by James Edward Smith and botanical art by James Sowerby from A Specimen of the Botany of New Holland. Image 9.5 x 7.5 cm, paper 25 x 21 cm 24


James Sowerby’s drawing from James Edward Smith’s A Specimen of the Botany of New Holland (1793). First Fleet artist George Raper’s illustration of Billardiera scandens (1788). Courtesy National Library of Australia.

National Library of Australia. Raper’s paintings and drawings had come into the Earl of Ducie’s possession through a Sarah Child who had an association with Sir Joseph Banks. Billardiera scandens was named after the French naturalist Jacques-Julien Houtou de Labillardière, the leading naturalist on the Bruni D’Entrecasteaux voyage which had been dispatched to search for the two missing frigates of the La Pérouse expedition. Labilliardière brought back many new specimens that were cultivated by the Empress Josephine at Malmaison, and his findings were published in his Relation du Voyage Atlas, which was illustrated by Pierre-Joseph Redouté. The Climbing apple berry was illustrated by James Sowerby in the first Australian Flora, A Specimen of the Botany of New Holland (1793–1795) by James Edward Smith. Billardiera scandens (B Series) Solar plate engraving created from a drawing by the artist from a living specimen. Image 18 x 16 cm, paper 40.5 x 34 cm 25


Ceratopetalum gummiferum Christmas bush

Ceratopetalum gummiferum (A Series) Solar plate engraving created from a painting by the artist and from text and botanical illustration from James Edward Smith and James Sowerby’s A Specimen of the Botany of New Holland (1793). Image 34 x 29 cm, paper 56 x 47 cm

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Ceratopetalum gummiferum Christmas bush

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he Christmas bush, classified by James Edward Smith, is the first flower to appear in his A Specimen of the Botany of New Holland (1793–1795). The illustration (left) by James Sowerby was based on the drawings and specimens sent to Smith by John White Esq., the Surgeon General of the First Fleet and the Port Jackson settlement, who was also a keen naturalist. The drawing (opposite, top right) in London’s Natural History Museum, which is described as the ‘Un-named flowering tree’, could well be this first drawing of the Christmas bush. Smith begins his description of the Christmas Bush with words that express both wonder and astonishment at the very strangeness of the newly discovered plants and flowers:

Ceratopetalum gummiferum (C Series) Solar plate engraving created from a detail in a botanical illustration by James Sowerby in A Specimen of the Botany of New Holland (1793). Image 9.5 x 7.5 cm, paper 25 x 21 cm 28


Binding, title page and Christmas bush illustration (detail) from James Edward Smith’s A Specimen of the Botany of New Holland (1793). Unknown painter, Christmas bush, from Watling Collection of First Fleet artwork, Natural History Museum, London. Š The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London.

When a botanist first enters on the investigation of so remote a country as New Holland, he finds himself as it were in a new world. He can scarcely meet with any certain fixed points from whence to draw his analogies: and even those that appear most promising, are frequently in danger of misleading, instead of informing him. Whole tribes of plants, which at first seem familiar to his acquaintance, as occupying links in nature’s chain, on which he has been accustomed to depend, prove on nearer examination, total strangers, with other configurations, other oeconomy and other qualities: not only all the species that present themselves are new, but most of the genera, and even natural orders.

Ceratopetalum gummiferum (B Series) Solar plate engraving created from a painting by the artist from a living specimen. Image 18 x 16 cm, paper 40.5 x 34 cm 29


Chorizema illicifolia Holly flame pea flower

Chorizema illicifolia (A Series) Solar plate engraving created from a charcoal drawing by the artist from a living specimen, over-printed with a map from Labillardière’s voyage and text from Pierre-Joseph Redouté’s illustration of the flower in Aimé de Bonpland’s Descriptions des Plantes Rares. Image 34 x 29 cm, paper 56 x 47 cm

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Chorizema illicifolia Holly flame pea flower

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he delicate and brightly coloured Holly flame pea flower was first collected and recorded by Jacques-Julien Houtou de Labillardière at Observatory Island on the south west coast of Western Australia in 1792. It was on the French voyage of D’Entrecasteaux in search of La Pérouse. An ardent naturalist, Labillardière collected widely on the voyage and in 1804–1806 published Novaie Hollandaie Plantarum Specimen, the largest study of Australian botany at the time, describing 370 species and containing 265 illustrations. Despite the hostilities between France and England, Labillardière had forged strong links with the English botanists of his time and corresponded with both Sir Joseph Banks, founder and president of the Royal Society, and James Edward Smith, founding president of the Linnean

Chorizema illicifolia (C Series) Solar plate engraving created from an engraving by Pierre-Joseph Redouté in Bonpland’s Descriptions des Plantes Rares. Image 9.5 x 7.5 cm, paper 25 x 21 cm 32


Title page from Jacques-Julien Houtou de La Billardière, An Account of a Voyage in Search of La Pérouse (1800). Redouté’s engraving, and text from La Billardière’s Relation du Voyage à la Recherche de La Pérouse (1800). Pierre-Joseph Redouté’s, illustration of Chorizema illicifolia from Aimé de Bonpland’s Description des Plantes Rares (1813).

Society. It was thanks to Labilliardière’s connections with Sir Joseph Banks, and Banks’ intervention, that his collections were restored to him after having been confiscated by the British prior to his return to France. In his journal, Relation du Voyage a la Recherché de La Pérouse (1799), Labillardière expresses the essence of his passion for the natural world as he contemplates the great forests of Tasmania in quiet reverie: The air was extremely calm. I awoke about midnight: and, seeing myself amidst these silent forests, the majesty of which by the feeble light of the stars still afforded me a glimpse, I felt myself penetrated with a sentiment of admiration at the inexpressible grandeur of Nature.

Chorizema illicifolia (B Series) Solar plate engraving created from a drawing by the artist from a living specimen. Image 18 x 16 cm, paper 40.5 x 34 cm 33


Chamelaucium unicatum Geraldton wax flower

Chamelaucium unicatum (A Series) Solar plate engraving created from a charcoal drawing by the artist from a living specimen. Image 34 x 29 cm, paper 56 x 47 cm

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Chamelaucium unicatum Geraldton wax flower

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he discovery of the Geraldton wax flower is not recorded, but it is likely to have been collected by the naturalists on the Nicolas Baudin expedition of 1801–1804. Baudin did not survive the voyage and was buried on the Ile de France (Mauritius) in September 1803. Naturalist François Péron survived to write the narrative of the voyage but not long enough to see it published. It was completed by Louis de Freycinet. This expedition had been fraught from the outset with problems of authority and discipline which put Baudin in an impossible situation. Péron’s account deliberately sought to blacken Baudin’s good name, and never once refers to him by name. In spite of this Péron’s narrative is engaging and vivid as he describes the natural wonders he encounters, the

Chamelaucium unicatum (C Series) Solar plate engraving created from work by René Louiche Desfontaines in Mémoires du Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle (1815–1832). Image 9.5 x 7.5 cm, paper 25 x 21 cm 36


Title page from René Louiche Desfontaines, Mémoires du Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle (1815–1832). Title page from François Péron, Voyage de Découvertes aux Terres Australes (1807). Detail of map ‘Terre Napoléon’ from de Freycinet’s Voyage de Découvertes aux Terres Australes (1812).

ordeals of the voyage, its tragedies and its highlights. He was utterly intoxicated by the sight of phosphorescence at sea: Here the entire surface of the ocean sparkles and shines like some silver material electrified in the darkness . . . Brilliant stars seem to burst in thousands from the depths of the waters. This solar plate engraving includes the Geraldton wax flower to celebrate Péron. Its open-faced, bright, guileless appearance evokes Péron’s precocious and ever curious personality. Péron noted that while the Baudin expedition was at Port Jackson from June to November 1802, he often went ‘botanising’ with Colonel William Patterson, who had befriended the young natural history enthusiast: ‘. . . with what enthusiasm did we vie with one another in the noble pleasure of making discoveries’. Chamelaucium unicatum (B Series) Solar plate engraving created from a painting by the artist. Image 18 x 16 cm, paper 40.5 x 34 cm 37


Brunonia australis Native cornflower

Brunonia australis (A Series) Hand-coloured solar plate engraving created from a charcoal drawing by the artist from a living specimen, over-printed with Matthew Flinders’ map Chart of Terra Australis, South Coast, 1802 (detail) and a line drawing by the artist. Image 34 x 29 cm, paper 56 x 47 cm

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Brunonia australis Native cornflower

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runonia australis grows widely across Australia and is a monotypic genus, that is, it has only a single species. It is named after the Scottish botanist Robert Brown, the naturalist on the 1801–1803 voyage on the Investigator that was commanded by Matthew Flinders and planned by Sir Joseph Banks to circumnavigate the Australian continent. Robert Brown is now regarded as one of the greatest botanists of the 19th century. Throughout the voyage he worked closely with the peerless Ferdinand Bauer, the expedition artist, collecting, classifying and illustrating thousands of new specimens. Bauer’s drawing of Brunonia australis was one of only 15 that he was able to publish in his Illustrationes Florae Novae Hollandiae (1813). Bauer did all the engraving and hand-colouring himself.

Brunonia australis (C Series) Solar plate engraving created from Ferdinand Bauer’s botanical illustration in Illustrationes Florae Novae Hollandiae (1813). Image 9.5 x 7.5 cm, paper 25 x 21 cm 40


Matthew Flinders, Chart of Terra Australis, South Coast, Sheet III, 1802 (detail), near Encounter Bay. Page from Robert Brown, William Thomas Stearn, Prodomus Florae Novae Hollandiae et Insulae Van Diemen (1810). Ferdinand Bauer’s illustration of Brunonia australis from Illustrationes Florae Novae Hollandiae (1813).

This drawing is one of the most admired of Bauer’s works in the Rare Books Collection of the State Library of Victoria. It combines a scientific accuracy that reflects his close association with Brown, with an elegance and refinement of line and colour that is second to none. As Flinders was circumnavigating the continent, so too was the French expedition led by Nicolas Baudin. The two met in hitherto uncharted waters, later named by Flinders as Encounter Bay, along the south coast of the continent near Kangaroo Island. Flinders went aboard the Géographe with Robert Brown as translator, and the two captains shared much information despite the fierce competition between the two expeditions.

Brunonia australis (B Series) Solar plate engraving created from a drawing by the artist from a living specimen. Image 18 x 16 cm, paper 40.5 x 34 cm 41


Lechenaultia biloba Blue leschenaultia

Lechenaultia biloba (A Series) Hand-coloured solar plate engraving created from a painting by the artist. Image 34 x 29 cm, paper 56 x 47 cm

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Lechenaultia biloba Blue leschenaultia

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he Blue leschenaultia, endemic to Western Australia, is named after Jean-Bapiste Leschenault de la Tour, who was a botanist on the French Baudin expedition. With 23 scientists on board the Géographe, the voyage was more of a scientific research exploration than a political mission. Although Leschenault was one of only three of the scientists to complete the ill-fated Baudin expedition, little is known of him. His collections from this voyage were more numerous than those of Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander on Cook’s voyage of 1770, yet where there is no record, history forgets. There is little evidence of Leschenault’s own descriptions of his experience on the voyage. In a small pamphlet, Notice sur la végétation de la Nouvelle Hollande, he notes that there is a total lack of wild cereals, legumes and other Lechenaultia biloba (C Series) Solar plate engraving created from an illustration and text from Samuel Curtis’ General Indexes to the Plants Contained in the First Fifty-three Volumes of the Botanical Magazine (1828). Image 9.5 x 7.5 cm, paper 25 x 21 cm

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From Samuel Curtis, General Indexes to the Plants Contained in the First Fifty-three Volumes (or old series complete) of the Botanical magazine (1828).

vegetables, with the local inhabitants being forced to eat roots, tubers and bulbs. We must rely on François Péron’s account of the voyage, in which Leschenault appears as a mere footnote. Péron says Leschenault worked energetically throughout the voyage collecting and preserving specimens with the help of his team which included the gardener Anselme Riedlé and the indefatigable Antoine Guichenot, the gardener’s boy. Leschenault’s plant collections went back to France with Jacques Hamelin on the Naturaliste and were used by other French botanists, including Bonpland, Desfontaines, de Jussieu, Labillardière and Ventenat. Many of these plants were also cultivated at Empress Josephine’s gardens at Malmaison and Navarre and later painted by Pierre-Joseph Redouté. Lechenaultia biloba (B Series) Solar plate engraving created from a painting by the artist from a living specimen. Image 18 x 16 cm, paper 40.5 x 34 cm 45


Grevillea banksii Red silky oak

Grevillea Banksii (A Series) Solar plate engraving created from a drawing by the artist and a botanical illustration by Ferdinand Bauer from Illustrationes Florae Novae Hollandiae (1813). Image 34 x 29 cm, paper 56 x 47 cm

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Grevillea banksii Red silky oak

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revillea banksii was named by Robert Brown to honour the botanical giant, Sir Joseph Banks. The plant was first collected and classified by Brown and illustrated by botanical artist Ferdinand Bauer, on the Matthew Flinders voyage to circumnavigate the continent. While the French and British governments vied for the lead in the new science of botany, the botanists themselves were quickly building a worldwide network of plant collectors and enthusiasts, even during times their countries were at war with each other. Banks was instrumental in establishing the culture of the new international scientific community, and even made considerable financial contributions from his own private wealth. Brown, who had benefited from access to Banks private collections, brought his

Grevillea Banksii (C Series) Solar plate engraving created from an illustration by Ferdinand Bauer in Illustrationes Florae Novae Hollandiae (1813). Image 9.5 x 7.5 cm, paper 25 x 21 cm 48


Title page from Robert Brown, Prodomus Florae Novae Hollandiae et Insulae Van Diemen (1810). Ferdinand Bauer, illustration of Grevillea banksii from Illustrationes florae Novae Hollandiae (1813).

own remarkable scientific brilliance to the new botanical discoveries. On Banks’ advice, Brown brought many references with him on the Flinders voyage to assist him in accurately identifying and classifying plants according to the new Linnean system. Brown and Bauer worked closely together, Bauer’s microscopial accuracy complementing Brown’s descriptions. In 1810, Brown published the results of his collecting in his famous Prodomus Florae Novae Hollandiae et Insulae Van Diemen, the first systematic account of Australian flora, written entirely in Latin. Although Bauer made hundreds of drawings on the voyage his illustration of the Grevillea banksii is one of only 15 images published in his 1813 Illustrationes Florae Novae Hollandiae. Grevillea Banksii (B Series) Solar plate engraving created from a painting by the artist. Image 18 x 16 cm, paper 40.5 x 34 cm 49


Christine Johnson Biography

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hristine Johnson is a visual artist who lives and works in Melbourne, Australia. She graduated in Fine Art from Monash University, received a Graduate Diploma from RMIT University and a Diploma of Education from Melbourne State College. Trained in fine art she worked as an art director on independent films and music videos in the 1980s and has also supported her art practice by teaching drawing and painting. Since 1989 Johnson has had over 20 solo exhibitions in major commercial galleries in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Perth including exhibitions with Australian Galleries, Tim Olsen and Martin Browne Fine Art, and has participated in numerous group exhibitions. Her work is represented in the collections of the Australian Embassy in Paris, Monash University, the University of Queensland, BHP, Artbank, Benalla Art Gallery and Hamilton Art Gallery and in many private collections. Her work has been documented in Australian Painting Now, by Laura Murray Cree and Nevill Drury (North Ryde, NSW, Craftsman House, 1999). In 2012 she was awarded a Creative Fellowship at the State Library of Victoria and began her research for Voyages Botanical, a project brought to fruition during her time as Artist in Residence at Baldessin Press, St Andrews, Victoria. A selection of this work is on display at the State Library of Victoria in the Dome gallery Mirror of the World exhibition from October 2014 to October 2015. In 2011 Johnson created Tiny Blooms, a radio program about the history of botanical exploration for Radio National’s Hindsight, with producer Gretchen Miller. The program also documented the process of preparing for her solo exhibition. www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/hindsight/tiny-blooms/3868964 Other projects include: curating Artists Make Books, a touring exhibition which travelled through Tasmania and Victoria and to Canberra; commission to produce a suite of four paintings for the foyer of Melbourne’s Park Hyatt Hotel; paintings for the foyer of the Crown Promenade Hotel in Melbourne’s Southbank; two editions of etchings with Port Jackson Press, Melbourne. The Victorian Tapestry Workshop created a large tapestry from Johnson’s painting, Mutabilis, which has toured internationally and was featured in a major survey exhibition of her work, Dark Wood to White Rose, at Benalla Art Gallery and Hamilton Art Gallery.

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Acknowledgements

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his work not only stands on the shoulders of those brave botanical gentlemen explorers who risked their lives to collect and illustrate flowers, but was inspired by the wonderful material in the Rare Books Collection of the State Library of Victoria which I was fortunate to have access to during my Creative Fellowship at the library. I enjoyed the collegial spirit of the Creative Fellowship program. It made me reflect upon that of the early botanists. With the generous guidance of staff at the State Library – Des Cowley, Judy Scurfield, Jan McDonald and others – I was able to refer to the journals, diaries and maps of the early adventurers, and I have relied on the scholarly work and interpretation of events by historians such as Edward Duyker, Frank Horner, Helen Hewsen and many others. I was able to bring the project to fruition as solar plate engravings with the generous support of Tess Edwards and the team at Baldessin Press. In particular I wish to thank Silvi Glattauer for her generosity of spirit in sharing her knowledge and technical expertise. The State Library of Victoria and Eric Noël have also been very generous in sponsoring the catalogue which I hope will provide a point de repaire for the work. Thanks go to those who have helped in the preparation of the catalogue, to Morag Fraser for her introductory essay, Robert Heather for his foreword and Eric Noël for his care and attention in editing my rambling notes. Thanks also to Margot Jones at the State Library of Victoria for thorough and extensive editorial and publishing advice and Wendy Bayliss for her beautiful catalogue design. I would also like to acknowledge the life-long support and encouragement I have received from my mother, Elvala Ayton. Christine Johnson 2014

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References

References are found in the State Library of Victoria Rare Books and Maps collections unless otherwise stated.

Helen Hewson, Australia: 300 years of Botanical Illustration, Collingwood, Vic., CSIRO Publishing, 1999

Joseph Banks (1743–1820), HMS Endeavour journal from 1768 to 1771, State Library of New South Wales, ZSafe/13

Jacques-Julien Houtou de La Billardière (1755–1834), Novae Hollandiae Plantarum Specimen, Paris, Huzard, 1804

Banks’ Florilegium: a publication in thirty-four parts of seven hundred and thirty-eight copperplate engravings of plants collected on Captain James Cook’s first voyage round the world in HMS Endeavour, 1768–1771, London, Alecto Historical Editions in association with the British Museum Natural History, 1981–1988 Ferdinand Bauer (1760–1826), Illustrationes Florae Novae Hollandiae, (plates published to accompany Robert Brown, Prodromus Florae Novae Hollandiae et Insulae Van Diemen, 1810), London, 1813 Aimé de Bonpland, (1773–1858), Description des Plantes Rares Cultivées à Malmaison et à Navarre, illustrations by Pierre-Joseph Redouté (1759–1840) and Pancrace Bessa (1772–1835), Paris, l’Impr. de P. Didot, 1813 Robert Brown, William Thomas Stearn, Prodomus Florae Novae Hollandiae et Insulae Van Diemen, Engelmann, 1810 Captain Cook’s Florilegium: a selection of engravings from the drawings of plants collected by Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander on Captain Cook’s first voyage to the islands of the Pacific, London, Lion and Unicorn Press, 1973 Samuel Curtis (1779–1860), General Indexes to the Plants Contained in the First Fifty-three Volumes (or old series complete) of the Botanical magazine, London, printed by Edward Couchman for Samuel Curtis, 1828 William Dampier (1652–1715), A Voyage to New Holland, &c. in the year 1699, Vol III, London, James Knapton, 1703 René Louiche Desfontaines (1750–1833), Mémoires du Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, G. Dufour, 1815–1832, Chamelaucium www.biodiversity library.org/pdf4/031400300108213.pdf Matthew Flinders (1774–1814), edited and introduced by Tim Flannery, Terra Australis: Matthew Flinders’ great adventures in the circumnavigation of Australia, Melbourne, Text Publishing, 2001, 1814 Matthew Flinders (1774–1814), Chart of Terra Australis, South Coast, Sheet III, 1802 London, Capt Hurd, R.N. Hydrographer to the Admiralty, 1814 Louis Claude Desaulses de Freycinet (1779–1842), Voyage de Découvertes aux Terres Australes, Paris, De l’Imprimerie Royale, 1812

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Jacques-Julien Houtou de La Billardière (1755–1834), Relation du Voyage à la Recherche de La Pérouse – Atlas, Paris, H.J. Jansen, 1800 Jacques-Julien Houtou de La Billardière (1755–1834), An Account of a Voyage in Search of La Pérouse, translated from the French of M. Labillardière, London, printed for J. Debrett, 1800 Jean-François de Galaup La Pérouse (1741–1788), A Voyage Round the World: which was performed in the years 1785, 1786, 1787, and 1788, abridged from the original French, Edinburgh, printed by J. Moir for T. Brown, 1798 Jean Baptiste Louis Claude Théodore Leschenault de la Tour (1773–1826), Notice sur la Végétation de la Nouvelle-Hollande, Paris, s.n., 1811 Sydney Parkinson (c 1745–1771), A Journal of a Voyage to the South Seas in his Majesty’s ship, the Endeavour, London, Dilly and Phillips, 1784 Sydney Parkinson, outline drawing of Dampiera stricta, Natural History Museum, London, www. diomedia.com/public/en/15236054/imageDetails. html François Péron (1775–1810), A Voyage of Discovery to the Southern Hemisphere, performed by order of the Emperor Napoleon during the years 1801, 1802, 1803 and 1804, Vol. 1, translated from the French, North Melbourne, Vic, Marsh Walsh, 1975 François Péron (1775–1810), Voyage de Découvertes aux Terres Australes, exécuté par ordre de sa Majesté, l’Empereur et Roi . . . , Paris, L’Imprimerie Impériale, 1807 George Raper, First Fleet artist, Australian flora and fauna water colours, 1788, Ducie Collection of First Fleet art, National Library of Australia Francois-Joseph Sandmann, Napoleon Bonaparte at Saint Helena. Source: commons.wikimedia.org/ wiki/File:Napoleon_sainthelene.jpg James Edward Smith (1759–1828), A Specimen of the Botany of New Holland, figures by James Sowerby, Vol. I., London, J. Sowerby, 1793 Étienne Pierre Ventenat (1757–1808), Jardin de la Malmaison, illustrations by Pierre-Joseph Redouté (1759–1840), Paris, Impr. de Crapelet, 1803 Unknown artist, painting of Christmas bush, from Watling Collection of First Fleet artwork, Natural History Museum, London www.nhm.ac.uk


Profile for Christine Johnson

Voyages Botanical Christine Johnson  

Fully illustrated catalogue of Christine Johnson's "Voyages Botanical" an exhibition at the Alliance Francaise de Melbourne featuring solar...

Voyages Botanical Christine Johnson  

Fully illustrated catalogue of Christine Johnson's "Voyages Botanical" an exhibition at the Alliance Francaise de Melbourne featuring solar...

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