after Nicholas Huet
V.eme Vue Du Jardin Des Plantes/Jardin Anglais et derriere de la Serre. DETAIL ONLY ILLUSTRATED.
inscribed ‘N. Huet del’ below image lower left Inscribed ‘Allais sculpt.’ below image lower right inscribed with title below image inscribed ‘a Paris chez Bance, ame, Md. D’Estampes, rue St Denis’ below image
18.3 x 26.1 cm
Engraving from a set of 8 engravings published in a folio in Paris c1805 (see endnote for the individual titles from the set, listed in Jardin Royal des Plantes Medicinales, Museum D’Histoire Naturelle, edited by H. Daragon, 1903). Complete sets are extremely rare. We could locate only two complete sets, both in the central library of the National Museum of Natural History in Paris. This museum incorporates Du Jardin Des Plantes (The Garden of the Plants) which is the subject of each of the 8 engravings in the set. It appears from our correspondence with the Museum’s librarians, Marie-Madeleine Bless and Antoine Monaque, that one of their sets is hand-coloured (shelfmark FOL-RES-45) and the other is uncoloured (shelfmark IC 7).
The librarians wrote to us that: ‘The coloured vues have been reproduced in Le jardin des Plantes, Muséum national d'histoire naturelle, Paris, 2006, p. 84-87, with the date  which does not appear on the engravings’. The librarians note that the uncoloured ‘set of vues [has] a manuscript title page dated 1821’ but they note that ‘[Louis] Denise, in his Bibliographie historique et iconographique du jardin des Plantes, Paris, 1903, assumes that the set has been printed before 1821.’ We feel that while the date of 1805 is highly probable, it can’t be offered with absolute certainty. Individual prints from the set of 8 are also rare. There are copies in various libraries around the world. However, it has been difficult to locate other examples of our engraving with the kangaroos.
There is another copy of our engraving held in the Library of Congress in Washington which is dated by the Library as 1805. It is uncoloured. We have been unable to find other copies of our engraving in the British Library, the British Museum or in any Australian library (using the Libraries Australia website), or on WorldCat.org or on Google images. Our engraving depicts two kangaroos in an enclosure (the menagerie, or the small zoo) in the Jardin Des Plantes in the grounds of the National Museum of Natural History in Paris c1805.
The title of the engraving translates as ‘The Fifth View, The Garden of Plants, The English Garden and behind the Greenhouse’. The garden was apparently an attempt to replicate a classical English garden in Paris. The small zoo had been founded in 1795 after the Royal Menagerie had been moved in 1792 to the gardens from Versailles. ‘Live kangaroos, which were first seen in Paris in 1802, captured the imagination of the public. Sir Joseph Banks sent a pair to the Jardin des Plants during a brief lull in the Anglo-French conflict. Soon after in 1804, the French expedition to Australia led by Captain Baudin brought back live kangaroos to Paris. Surmounting considerable problems onboard the Geographe, the kangaroos were finally caged in the cabins of the botanist and midshipman to prevent their dying from damp and dog attacks. ‘Upon reaching France,
Baudin’s two ships were met by staff from the Natural History Museum and representatives of Josephine Bonaparte. Josephine was deeply interested in natural science and had already established many Australian plants in the gardens of her chateau Malmaison. Fierce rivalry ensued between the two parties and ministerial edicts were issued enforcing Josephine’s claim to the living animals.’
The same image is depicted in a porcelain plate, one of a set of twelve plates which reputedly belonged to Princess Paolina Borghese (Napoleon’s sister) and Prince Camillo Borghese. The plate is in the David Roche Collection in Adelaide (see The David Roche Collection by Christopher Menz and Robert Reason). The plate has been on loan to the National Library of Australia. The NLA’s Magazine, September 2013, reported that when David Roche visited the Library’s new galleries ‘He was inspired, on seeing Sir Joseph Banks’ teapot - displayed as part of another great collection, assembled by Sir Rex Nan Kivell - to offer the loan of his French porcelain plate illustrated with a view of the Jardin des Plantes in Paris centrally featuring two kangaroos. The plate, dating from about 1805, was produced by the Pierre Neppel Factory (c. 1805–1818) and was given as part of a dinner service by Empress Josephine and Napoleon to Napoleon’s sister Pauline as a wedding gift.’
An image depicting kangaroos in Josephine Bonaparte’s garden at her chateau, Malmaison, appears as the frontispiece in the first volume of Voyage de decouveries aux Terres Australes, published in 1807 ). The story of Napoleon and Josephine and their in involvement in natural science is told in Napoleon, the Empress & the artist - The Story of Napoleon, Josephine's Garden at Malmaison, Redouté & the Australian Plants, by Jill Duchess of Hamilton.