Following on from the success of Captain James Cook for Britain the French government decided to send Jan Francois de La Perouse on a voyage to explore the possibility of a north-west passage. The two corvettes called ‘La Boussole’ and ‘L’Astrolabe’ left Brest in August 1785. During the voyage La Perouse visited Chile, the Hawaiian Islands, Alaska, California, Macao, Manilla, the seas of China and Japan, Tonga and Australia. His last letter to the Minister in Paris was written from Botany Bay in Australia on 7 February 1788. The entire La Perouse expedition disappeared after leaving Sydney. The records had fortunately been sent ahead. Antoine de Bruni, chevalier d’Entrecasteaux was send out to locate the expedition in 1791-93 without success. It was the English captain Peter Dillon in 1826 who located the remains in Vanikoro, in the Santa Cuz Islands. Although some of the shipwrecked material he brought back to Europe was confirmed as being from the vessels it was not until 1964 that the exact fate of them became clear. Both vessels it appeared had shipwrecked, much of the crew were massacred by the natives, those remaining had constructed a vessel and left the islands after nine months never to be seen again. With the fine portrait of the author signed by Tardieu. Falk (1983) 1797.5-13; Ferguson 268; Sabin 38960.