Detail from Danse des Iles des Amis en présence de la Reine Tiné (Dance of the Friendly Islands in the presence of Queen Tiné) by Jacques-Louis Copia, after a drawing by [Nicholas?] Piron, 1817. Dayton C. Miller Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress.
after a drawing by [Nicholas?] Piron, botanical artist, fl. 1791-1797
This is a scene of a dance in the Friendly Islands, now known as Tonga, an archipelago in the South Pacific. This is one of many etchings by Copia and other artists illustrating the 1791-1793 voyages of Bruni d'Entrecasteaux to Australia and Tasmania in search of La Pérouse, a French explorer who disappeared after leaving Botany Bay in 1788.
Here, five tall women, natives of the Friendly Islands, dance before their queen who sits at the right with other women beneath a canopy of palm branches. Three native men are at the left, one of whom stands and holds what appears to be a "fangufangu," a type of nose flute that was specific to the Friendly Islands (now called Tonga) in the 18th century as it was described by Captain Cook on his voyages in the South Pacific. Cook described a bamboo nose flute with four holes that was played with one nostril. The tall man holding a nose flute points with his left hand toward the dancing women. A man in European dress is at the far left and a group of people can be seen behind the trees in the left background.
This is plate 27 from a book by Jacques Julien Houtou de Labillardière (1755-1834) entitled, Atlas pour servir à la relation du voyage à la recherche de La Pérouse..., of 1817. See 459/U, from the 1817 edition, also by Copia after Piron. Compare with 458/U, an etching by Palas from a different book illustrating the voyages of Captain Cook in 1774.
Cook's voyages to the Friendly Islands in the ships, Resolution and Adventure, were made each year from 1772 to 1775, charts and maps of which were published in England in 1777. La Pérouse, a French explorer, traveled in the Pacific near Japan and along the Russian coast on a voyage around the world from 1785 to 1788. Another web site gives additional information on Entrecasteaux, including the year 1793 as the time he was in the Friendly Islands. Thus, Copia's original design for this image must date to ca. 1793, though this plate comes from Labillardière's Atlas... of 1817, a book published eighteen years after Copia's death.
About the Artists
Jacques-Louis Copia, engraver, 1764-1799
Jacques-Louis Copia was a German artist, born in Landau in 1764 and who died in Paris in 1799, according to Bénézit. As an engraver, Bénézit mentions about six of his finest prints, among them: La vengeance de Cérès, after Pierre Paul Prud'hon (1758-1823), and Je touche au bonheur, after the Swedish artist, Niklas Lafrensen the younger, also called Lavreince (1737-1807). There is no mention in Bénézit of Copia engraving illustrations for voyages of explorations in the South Pacific.
[Nicholas?] Piron, botanical artist, fl. 1791-1797
Piron was a botanical artist who accompanied the expedition of Antoine Raymond Joseph Bruni d'Entrecasteaux (1739-1793) in search of Jean François de Galaup, comte de La Pérouse (1741-1788?). Very little information is available on Piron. Even his first name is not certain. As an artist, he was said to have flourished between 1791 and 1797, and that he worked with Jacques Julien Houtou de Labillardière (1755-1834), the naturalist on the same expedition of Bruni d'Entrecasteaux. Some of Piron's drawings were published in Labillardière's book, Novae Hollandiae Plantarum Specimen, 1804-1806.
- For an image of a "fangufangu" and Cook's description of it, see a Web site entitled Cook's Pacific Encounters: Cook-Forster Collection credited jointly to the National Museum of Australia and Göttingen University. [back to article]
- Jacques Julien Houtou de Labillardière (1755-1834) entitled, Atlas pour servir à la relation du voyage à la recherche de La Pérouse, fait par ordre de l'Assemblée Constituante, pendant les années 1791, 1792, et pendant la 1ère. Et 2ème. Année de la République Française. Paris: Chez Dabo, 1817. This is not in the Library of Congress but, according to the National Union Catalog, it is available in the New York Public Library, Brown University, Yale University, and the Newberry Library in Chicago. A note to the record in the National Union Catalog states, "The plates, designed by Citizen Piron, draughtsman to the expedition, were originally issued with Labillardière's Relation du voyage à la recherche de La Pérouse.... Paris, ." A copy of Relation du voyage à la recherche de La Pérouse... published in Paris by H. J. Jansen, an VIII  is in the Library of Congress, Rare Book and Special Collections Division. LC call number: G420.L28E5. [back to article]
- See a book on his voyage, Voyage de La Pérouse autour du monde. Paris: Imp. De la République, 1797, mentioned in a Web site, Voyages: Scientific Circumnavigations 1679-1879. See also an online description of the expedition of Bruni d'Entrecasteaux to search for La Pérouse from 1791-1793. [back to article]
- See Discoverer's Web: D'Entrecasteaux. [back to article]
- Piron is not in Bénézit. His biography is given online in a Web site devoted to the Australian National Botanic Gardens. [back to article]
- A short online biography on Labillardière is available in the same Web site for the Australian National Botanic Gardens. [back to article]