Rare early view of Singapore, drawn for the official report of the French circumnavigation of the world, of led by Cyrille Pierre Théodore Laplace.
The view is drawn looking up the Singapore River from South Boat Quay. It shows Jackson's Bridge, the first bridge that connected North and South Bridge Roads and provided access to Chinatown. It was constructed of wood in 1823 by Lieutenant Philip Jackson, who was involved in the construction of the early roads and the filling in of the swampy area of the south bank of the Singapore River. The central portion of the bridge could be raised to allow vessels to pass upstream. The quay on the south bank was built up as far as the bridge, following the guidelines in Raffles' Town Plan. The Governor's House on Government Hill is also depicted with its flagstaff.
This aquatint by swiss engraver and artist Sigismond Himely, after a drawing by a yound François-Edmond Pâris (1806-1893). Pâris would rise to the level of French admiral, and play an important role in the Age of Steam and as a founder of the Musée National de la Marine. Paris served as an artist aboard French corvette La Favorite, under the command of Captain Cyrille Laplace, which sailed eastwards around the world between 1830 and 1833. The expedition was in Singapore between 17 and 25 August 1830. This is one of a pair of 'views' of Singapore from the expedition.
Cyrille Pierre Théodore Laplace sailed eastwards around the world between 1830 and 1833 on the orders of the King of France, Louis-Philippe. The purpose of this expedition was to collect scientific data and extend French diplomatic influence, especially in regions crucial to the emerging world of global trade.
Singapore, having been established as a British trading post by Sir Stamford Raffles just a decade earlier in 1819, was rapidly ascending the ladder of geopolitical importance. By the time Laplace anchored at its port, the island was already a bustling hub, strategically positioned in the nexus of the East and West maritime trade routes.
Laplace's visit to Singapore provides a snapshot of the island during its formative years. Through French eyes, Singapore was observed as a place of convergence, where different cultures, languages, and goods mingled. It was also a location that exemplified the British Empire's expansive reach in the East.