Louis Isidore Duperrey, a French naval officer, was born Oct. 21, 1786. After sailing around the world as second in command on the Uranie in 1817-20, Duperrey was given command of the Coquille in 1822, with a mission of exploring the Pacific and the islands north of Australia, such as New Guinea. The naturalists on board theCoquille were the two ship’s surgeons, Prosper Garnot and René Primevère Lesson. Duperrey himself, although trained as a hydrologist, pitched in by collecting minerals, as did Jules Dumont d’Urville, the assistant commander, who was the botanist. This quartet amassed an astonishing collection of unknown plants and animals, especially from New Guinea, including birds of paradise, bower birds, the reclusive marsupial cuscus, and a wide variety of fish and invertebrates. When the voyage concluded in 1825, Duperrey leapt into the task of publishing the narrative, and the first volume appeared before the year was out, with the other five volumes plus four large atlases following over the next five years. We have an almost complete set of this important scientific voyage in the History of Science Collection; we displayed a volume in our recent Grandeur of Life exhibition.

The images above show a glorious Portuguese man-of-war (which was the image we displayed in Grandeur of Life), two kingfishers, and three tropical butterfly fish.

Dr. William B. Ashworth, Jr., Consultant for the History of Science, Linda Hall Library and Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Missouri-Kansas City