Sebastian Bernizet. “Carte des Parties des Iles Sandwich”/”Carte des Iles Sandwich.” From Jean Francois de Galoup La Pérouse’s Atlas de Voyage de la Pérouse. Paris, 1797. 26 3/4 x 19 1/2. Engraving. With some soft creases and small chip in neatline at top.
A lovely chain of islands in the mid-Pacific were discovered in 1778 by Captain James Cook. Cook named the islands the “Sandwich Islands” after his patron, the Earl of Sandwich, but over time their name returned to the indigenous name of “Hawaii.” The expedition’s cartographer, Henry Roberts, was able to map only a part of the chain, so Cook’s map, the first of Hawaii, was incomplete, with much of the middle part of the island group unexplored. This was corrected a few years later by a French expedition under the Comte de La Pérouse. The French were inspired by their rivalry with the English to try to follow up Cook’s expedition in the Pacific with one of their own under La Pérouse. He sailed with two ships and an extensive library, including the narrative of Cook, arriving in Hawaii in 1786. The expedition was able to explore some of the chain not visited by Cook and that is shown on the top map by Pérouse’s cartographer Sebastian Bernizet. The lower map is a compilation by Bernizet of his own mapping with that from Cook’s expedition. There were few 18th century maps of Hawaii based on first-hand observation and this is a fine example of such a chart.