Choris, Louis

CHORIS, Louis (1795-1828).

Lithographs from:

Voyage pittoresque autour du monde, avec des portraits de sauvages d'Amérique, d'Asie, d'Afrique, et des iles du Grand Ocean; des paysages, des vues maritimes, et plusieurs objets d'histoire naturelle; accompagné de descriptions par M. le Baron Cuvier, et M. A. de Chamisso, et d'observations sur les cranes humaines par M. le docteur Gall.

Published by Paris: Imprimerie de Firmin Didot, 1822-[1823]., 1822


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 important 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 Kotzbue, and the two published works which resulted represent a fine 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 great American interest 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 considered to be one of the most beautiful relating to travel.


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