Nouvelle Hollande - Iles Decres Dwarf Emu on Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island Emu family: dominant father protecting the demure seated mother, surrounded by playful chicks. Yet historians and scientists now assert that the seated emu is a King Island emu, and also a male, and the chicks were most likely drawn from mainland emu specimens. Rather than a family unit, these are three species.  

François Péron, the naturalist on Baudin's voyage, assessed the abundance of the King Island emu based on the hearsay of a sealer, Daniel Cooper, who reported having killed or caught more than 300 in six months. Péron's published description of 'swarms' of these birds, which could be eaten and used for grease, is grossly inaccurate. King Island emus were extinct a year after this print was published.

This print comes from Voyage de découvertes aux terres australes...' (Voyage of discovery to Southern lands...), the work illustrating Nicolas Baudin's expedition. At the time, the French were the most progressive at sending teams of artists & scientists around the world with their explorers.

The French expedition under Nicolas Baudin, was commissioned to chart the coastline of Australia, sailed into Sydney in 1802. On board was Charles Alexandre Lesueur (1778-1846), draftsman/naturalist.

It was one of the most lavishly equipped scientific expeditions ever to leave Europe. At the dawn of the nineteenth century, French navigator Nicolas Baudin led two ships carrying 22 scientists and more than 230 officers and crew on a three-and-a-half-year voyage to the 'Southern Lands', charting coasts, studying the natural environment and recording encounters with indigenous peoples.

Inspired by the Enlightenment's hunger for knowledge, Baudin's expedition collected well in excess of 100,000 specimens, produced more than 1500 drawings and published the first complete chart of Australia.

Baudin's artists, Charles-Alexandre Lesueur and Nicolas-Martin Petit, painted a series of remarkable portraits of Aboriginal people and produced some of the earliest European views of Australian fauna. An integral part of the French scientific project, these exquisite artworks reveal the sense of wonder this strange new world inspired.



Charles Alexander Lesueur
Dwarf Emu on Kangaroo Island - Nouvelle Hollande - Iles Decres
Publication Place / Date
Image Dimensions
Paris / 1811
32 by 25 cm
Hand Colouring
Product Price
Product Number
USD 980
SKU #P.1893