29 Nov-26 May. This exhibition, entitled The King’s Map, pays homage to François le Vaillant (1753-1824), French traveler, explorer, naturalist and social critic, as well as the first significant modern ornithologist.
Le Vaillant spent three years in Southern Africa at the end of the 18th century , which inspired his writings, watercolours and maps, which vividly depict the nature and human interactions at that time. This exhibition displays among the others an unpublished piece, the King’s Map, created by Le Vaillant for King Louis XVI, as well as a major selection of rare and valuable watercolours, kept at the South African parliament, including some original bird illustrations for Oiseaux d'Afrique and some elephant folio versions of his bird books illustrated by Barraband from the Brenthurst Library.
Le Vaillant lived for a certain period in Rust en Vreugd, a beautiful townhouse in Cape Town from the late 18th century, from where he catalogued his collections of natural history, and where currently hosts one of the numerous Iziko Museums around town. This exhibition is part of a multifaceted collaboration between France and South Africa, better known as the French Season.