The King’s Map

  • Location: South African Museum
  • From: November 29, 2012     To: May 26, 2013
The King’s Map
Ilustration by Jacques Barraband. Original description: "Perruche Ara Guarouba femelle". From Histoire Naturelle des Perroquets (by François Levaillant, 1801-1805). Bird illustrated is Aratinga solstitialis

François Le Vaillant in southern Africa 1781 – 1784

Recognised as the first significant modern ornithologist, French traveller and social critic François le Vaillant spent the years 1781 to 1784 in southern Africa. He created a window on southern Africa through his writings, watercolours and maps that vividly depict both nature and human interaction at that time.  The exhibition foregrounds Le Vaillant’s multi-dimensional legacy as explorer, naturalist and social critic. 

A unique map of South Africa produced 222 years ago for King Louis XVI and never before exhibited, will form the centre-piece of the exhibition. Other very rare and valuable works by Le Vaillant will be displayed, including a major selection of watercolours held by the South African Parliament, original bird illustrations for Oiseaux d'Afrique and elephant folio versions of his bird books illustrated by Barraband from the Brenthurst Library.

Iziko Museums has its own special connection to the life of Le Vaillant at the Cape. One of its museums, Rust en Vreugd, a splendid late 18th century townhouse in Buitenkant Street, Cape Town, once provided accommodation for Le Vaillant and it was here that for a time he catalogued his collections of natural history; and from here that he left on expeditions into the interior.

The exhibition forms part of the prestigious ‘French Season’ - the multifaceted bilateral collaboration between France and South Africa. This groundbreaking collaborative project links histories, art and nature.

This event organised is as part of the France-South Africa Seasons 2012 & 2013

Hayden Proud
Tel. 021 481 3965

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