Rare early Aquatint view of Singapore on chine collé, drawn for the official report of the French circumnavigation of the world, of led by Cyrille Pierre Théodore Laplace.
This image depicts a sampan at the mouth of the Singapore River. At the left is the river's southwest bank, an originally marshy area that was filled with reclaimed land. European merchants who were displaced from the north used warehouses on the originally marshy south bank after it was reclaimed in 1822. The row of steps built for ships to access the quay at high and low tide are visible, as are several buildings that reflect Sir Stamford Raffles’ instructions in the 1822 Town Plan of Singapore for houses to be built with protected covered walkways in front.
This aquatint by Swiss engraver and artist Sigismond Himely, after a drawing by a young 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 the 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.