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Louis Choris (French, 1795-1828), "Palm"

Louis Choris (French, 1795-1828), "Palm"

  • $ 9,500.00

Attributed to Louis Choris (French, 1795-1828)
Prepared for  Voyage Pittoresque Autour du Monde… (Paris, 1822) or
Vues et Paysages des Regions Equinoxiales... (Paris, 1826)
Pen and ink, pencil and watercolor on paper
Annotations in pen and ink
Ca. 1818
Paper size: 9 x 7 1/8 in.
Frame size: 18 7/8 x 16 7/8 in.


Louis (or Ludovik) Choris, a Russian of German extraction, showed a talent for natural history illustration at a remarkably early age, and initially won high praise for his pictorial work on Biberstein’s journey to the Caucasus in 1813.  His most celebrated publications, however, were the Voyage Pittoresque Autour du Monde and the Vues et Paysages des Regions Equinoxiales.  In both of these magnificent works, Choris provided critical pictorial representations of the people, landscape, and artifacts of the still-mysterious islands of the Pacific, California, Alaska, the northwest coast of America, and other far-off lands. 

Choris had first-hand knowledge of these places, having been the official artist accompanying the Russian expedition around the world led by Otto von Kotzebue, the primary object of which was the search for a Northwest Passage.  The voyage took place in 1815-1818 aboard the “Rurik,” which entered the Pacific via the Horn and eventually returned to Europe via the Cape of Good Hope and St. Helena.  Choris had been invited by the St. Petersburg Academy to accompany Kotzebue. The two published works which resulted represent an excellent cross-section of the places that the expedition visited, specifically including such locales as Teneriffe, Brazil, Chile, the Pacific Islands, Hawaii, Kamchatka, the Philippines, the Cape of Good Hope and Saint Helena.  These works have American significance because of their lithographs and accounts of California, the Queen Charlotte Islands, the Aleutians, St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea, and Kotzebue Island in Alaska.  The illustrations concern all aspects of native life and culture, and Choris’s books are one of the most beautiful relating to travel. 

The magnificence of Choris’s published lithographs, however, pales in comparison to the nuanced touch and exquisite execution of the artist’s original watercolors and sketches, which are extremely rare, many of them lost.  The present selection represents an unparalleled glimpse into the balance of documentary and aesthetic impulses that characterizes this master artist’s work.

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