||Choris, Louis, 1795-1828
||Voyage pittoresque autour du monde [illustrations--excerpt]
||Choris, Louis. Voyage pittoresque autour du monde, avec des portraits de sauvages d'Amérique, d'Asie, d'Afrique, et des îles du Grand Océan; des paysages, des vues maritimes, et plusieurs objets d'histoire naturelle; accompagné de descriptions par m. le Baron Cuvier, et m. A. de Chamisso, et d'observations sur les crânes humains, par m. le Docteur Gall. Par m. Louis Choris, peintre. (Paris: De l'Imprimerie de Firmin Didot, 1822). Plates I - XIV, pages 1-10, pages 1-3 (California); plates I-XIX, pages 1-24 (Hawaii); plates I-XXIII, pages 1-28 (Alaska).
||124 / 58
Louis (or Ludovik/Ludwig) Choris (1795-1828) was a young
Ukrainian artist living in St. Petersburg, Russia, when in 1815
he was chosen for a voyage headed by Captain Otto von Kotzebue.
As a teenager Choris had served as the botanical artist on a
Russian scientific expedition to the Caucasus Mountains, and his
reputation was on the rise in Moscow artistic circles.
The purpose of the Kotzebue voyage was to search the Alaskan
coast for a northeast passage through the Bering Strait, so the
Russians could supply their trading posts between California and
Alaska without having to sail all the way around Cape Horn. The
ship Rurik carried only twenty-seven people, including Captain
Kotzebue, scientist Adelbert von Chamisso, and artist Choris.
Choris went on to pursue a successful art career in the years
that followed, bringing out a second collection of lithographs
in 1826. In 1827 he headed again for America, this time to draw
Indians in Mexico. Riding from Veracruz on the Gulf Coast toward
Mexico City, he was killed when robbers attacked his party on
March 22, 1828.
Expedition of 1815-1818
They departed Europe in July 3, 1815, rounded the tip of
South America, and touched at Chile before crossing the Pacific
to winter in Kamchatka. During the summer of 1816 they explored
the Bering Strait and the Aleutian island of Unalaska, heading
to California in the fall to stock up on fresh meat, fruit and
vegetables. The expedition spent October 1816 anchored in San
Francisco Bay, giving Choris ample opportunity to portray its
Indian and Spanish inhabitants.
From San Francisco Kotzebue continued on to Hawaii, then
called the Sandwich Islands, where they spent nearly four months
(November 1816 to March 1817) cruising, mapping, and drawing. A
second visit the following autumn gave Choris another
opportunity to gather impressions and images of Hawaii. Kotzebue
finally reached the Arctic again in the summer of 1817, but
illness and unexpected ice cover forced him to head home in
July. After visiting Guam, the Philippines, South Africa, and
London, the expedition returned to St. Petersburg in August 3,
1818, having circumnavigated the globe.
After the official report had been filed, Choris was
encouraged to publish a private edition of his drawings and
paintings. In 1819 he went to Paris and arranged for one of the
most talented printers in France to reproduce his work using the
relatively new technique of lithography. He sold the sumptuous
folio volume of more than one hundred plates by subscription, with the
Russian czar and the kings of France and Prussia among his
Choris’ book has never been translated into English in its
entirety; excerpts can be found in Through Alien Eyes : the
visit of the Russian ship Rurik to San Francisco in 1816 and the
men behind the visit, by Edward Mornin.(Oxford & New York:
P. Lang, 2002).
Other Internet and Reference Sources
More details on Kotzebue's voyage can be found in the online
exhibit “Science Under Sail: Russia's Great Voyages to America
Kotzebue’s report was published as A Voyage of Discovery
into the South Sea and Bering’s Strait… (London: Longman,
Hurst, Rees, Orme & Brown, 1821) and Chamisso's appeared in 1986
as A Voyage Around the World with the Romanzov Exploring
Expedition in the Years 1815-1818 in the brig Rurik, Captain
Otto von Kotzebue (Honolulu : University of Hawaii Press,
Choris’ other illustrated book was Vues et Paysages des
Régions Equinoxiales Recueillis dans un Voyage Autour du Monde
(Paris: Paul Renouard, 1826).