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Stopover in South Africa – The Cape: January 1804

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12192000The town and the port of the Cape (South Africa), C.-A. Lesueur, 1804Table Mountain is in the background. The town and the port of the Cape (South Africa), C.-A. Lesueur, 1804The town and the port of the Cape...Table Mountain is in the background. The town and the port of the Cape (South Africa), C.-A....Zoom http://www.museum-lehavre.fr/sites/default/files/styles/exposition/public/multimedia/19030_det.jpg?itok=IpAq_7uMMuséum du Havre
1000810An African man, supposedly from Mozambique, N.-M. Petit, 1804There is little information about the man’s scarifications. The three-quarter pose is characteristic of classic portraits from the early 19th century. An African man, supposedly from Mozambique, N.-M. Petit, 1804An African man, supposedly from...There is little information about the man’s scarifications. The three-quarter pose is...Zoom http://www.museum-lehavre.fr/sites/default/files/styles/exposition_portrait/public/multimedia/19050-1_det.jpg?itok=2SJFSbN2Muséum du Havre
13612000A South-African womanThe annotation reads, ‘Southern African – Houswanaas woman’. Here again is the three-quarter pose characteristic of classic portraits of the early 19th century. The initial drawing is covered with a sheet of the same paper with a medallion-shaped frame cut out of it. This design gives the impression that you’re seeing two different drawings: the ‘original’ portrait, and the same portrait highlighted by the ‘frame’, probably for publication in the Account of the Voyage. A South-African woman, N.-M. Petit, 1804 A South-African womanThe annotation reads, ‘Southern African – Houswanaas woman’. Here again is the three-quarter...Zoom http://www.museum-lehavre.fr/sites/default/files/styles/exposition/public/multimedia/19053-1_det.jpg?itok=krSCeTwOMuséum du Havre
1000772A South-African woman’s ‘apron’, C.-A. Lesueur, 1804In 1800, the expedition’s savants were aware of a particular physical trait that was thought to be characteristic of certain South African women: an enlargement of the genital labia, referred to as an ‘apron’. During the stopover at the Cape, Peron and Lesueur asked to see at a hospital a number of women who had this, in order to study them. Accounts in their journals show that there were differences in the descriptions of these women by different savants. Petit mentions the accounts of eight to ten of his companions who had observed this characteristic, and notes that it would ‘capture the interest of most of the officials on our ship’. A doctor named L’haridon mentioned the same thing, ‘one could say that this part would lend itself to a kind of orgasm’. The subject was also discussed with the Dutch in the colony. This study was supposedly for scientific interests however it seems perhaps more to do with their fantasies. We know today that this characteristic is not specific to this region. The reason it was identified at the time could simply be that it was perhaps more prevalent there. A South-African woman’s ‘apron’, C.-A. Lesueur, 1804A South-African woman’s...In 1800, the expedition’s savants were aware of a particular physical trait that was thought to...Zoom http://www.museum-lehavre.fr/sites/default/files/styles/exposition_portrait/public/multimedia/19037-1_det.jpg?itok=GGqD9VMoMuséum du Havre
13752000An African gnuA live gnu was sent back to France by the expedition, along with other natural history specimens, given by the Governor of the colony to Madame Bonaparte and the French National Institute. An African gnuA live gnu was sent back to France by the expedition, along with other natural history specimens,...Zoom http://www.museum-lehavre.fr/sites/default/files/styles/exposition/public/multimedia/80136_det.jpg?itok=OPDndCQeMuséum du Havre
1000789Study of a gnuStudy of a gnu, Connochaetes gnou (Zimmermann, 1780), C.-A. Lesueur, 1804Study of a gnuStudy of a gnu, Connochaetes gnou (Zimmermann, 1780), C.-A. Lesueur, 1804Zoom http://www.museum-lehavre.fr/sites/default/files/styles/exposition_portrait/public/multimedia/80138r_det.jpg?itok=8i7g45kYMuséum du Havre
12762000South African baboonsSouth African baboons, Papio ursinus (Kerr, 1792), C.-A. Lesueur, between 1804 and 1810South African baboonsSouth African baboons, Papio ursinus (Kerr, 1792), C.-A. Lesueur, between 1804 and 1810Zoom http://www.museum-lehavre.fr/sites/default/files/styles/exposition/public/multimedia/80196_det.jpg?itok=hs0BJxzPMuséum du Havre

 Stopover in South Africa – The Cape: January 1804

The Dutch authorities at the Cape welcomed the boats and gave them provisions. On their departure the Governor gave them natural history specimens for Madame Bonaparte and for the French National Institute. Here also, the local people gave them animals in exchange for various objects such as pins, weapons and mirrors.

The manuscripts of the expedition record zoological and geographical observations including descriptions of Table Mountain. There were also observations of what was called the ‘Hottentote women’s aprons’, referring to enlarged genital labia in some women. This physical trait was already well known to Europeans from accounts of voyages, although these contain contradictory claims. The doctor in the colony gave them access to the hospital, where Peron noted that a number of women didn’t have this characteristic. Peron wrote and Lesueur drew.

 

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