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One of the very first maps of South Africa on unique display in Cape Town

Set in the Iziko South African Museum of Cape Town, an exhibition dedicated to French explorer and cartographer François Le Vaillant foregrounds the man's multi-dimensional legacy as naturalist and social critic. Recognised as the first significant modern ornithologist, François le Vaillant spent the years 1781 to 1784 in southern Africa. He created a window on the region through his writings, watercolours and maps that vividly depict both nature and human interaction at that time.

A unique map of South Africa produced 222 years ago for King Louis the XVI and never before exhibited will form the centre-piece of this exhibition called "François Le Vaillant in southern Africa 1781 – 1784". Other very rare and valuable works by Le Vaillant will be displayed, including a major selection of watercolours held by the South African Parliament, original bird illustrations for "Oiseaux d'Afrique" and elephant folio versions of his bird books illustrated by Barraband from the Brenthurst Library. Very complete, this exhibition allows visitors to explore Le Vaillant’s world and his legacy which still resonates 200 years later.

Iziko Museums has its own special connection to the life of Le Vaillant at the Cape. One of its museums, Rust en Vreugd, a splendid late 18th century town house in Buitenkant Street, Cape Town, once provided accommodation for Le Vaillant and it was here that for a time he catalogued his collections of natural history; and from here that he left on expeditions into the then mysterious interior of the country.

"François Le Vaillant in southern Africa 1781 – 1784" - Location: Iziko South African Museum in Cape Town, 25 Queen Victoria street - From November 29, 2012 to May 26, 2013 - This event organised is as part of the France-South Africa Seasons 2012 & 2013


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