Historical botanical illustration of the day

Louis-Antoine de Bougainville, Jeanne Baré, Tahiti, transit of Venus, Venus, Mrs Morgan's Florilegium, Natalie Waddell,

Bougainvillea was discovered by French botanist Philibert Commerçon along the coasts of Brazil in the 1760s.

The naturalist named the plant after his captain Louis-Antoine de Bougainville, with whom he sailed around the world aboard La Boudeuse and L’Etoile.

Also on board was Commerçon’s housekeeper and mistress, Jeanne Baré, who was disguised as a man since women were strictly forbidden on French Navy ships at the time.

Baré acted as a nurse to Commerçon, who was often ill, as well as assisting him in his scientific work. Her gender was only publicly discovered when the expedition landed at Tahiti in 1768. She became the first woman known to have circumnavigated the world and remained with Commerçon till the end of his life.

The above illustration is of Bougainvillea spectabilis, a watercolour done by the artist Sydney Parkinson after he landed at Brazil in 1768 aboard the Endeavour, also bound for Tahiti.

Via nhm.ac.uk and Wikipedia and Milly Acharya’s Botanix.

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