François-Edmond Pâris

b.1806, d.1893

Nouvelle-Zélande. Pirogue de L'Anse de l'Astrolabe

  • Purchased 2011
  • Hand coloured lithograph,
  • 520 x 342mm
  • 2011/249
  • 1833

François-Edmond Pâris was a twenty-year-old naval ensign when he joined Dumont d’Urville’s Pacific survey of 1826–29. He became involved in a comprehensive study of the ships and boats of the peoples they encountered. “We are in the most complete ignorance of the watercraft of peoples and times whose clothing, weapons and the most common objects we know in detail”, he later commented, and with his project “sought to correct this oversight”.

Two prints relating to Pâris’s New Zealand observations appeared in d’Urville’s 1833 published account, presenting a range of impressive waka seen at Tasman Bay, Tolaga Bay and Bream Bay, the largest nearly seventeen metres long. He also documented a rich variety of tau ihu (canoe prows) with their ornately carved forms.

Pâris retired from the French navy as a vice-admiral in 1871, after which time he was put in charge of the Musée national de la Marine in Paris. (Kā Honoka, 18 December 2015 – 28 August 2016)