Jacques Etienne Victor Arago (1790–1855), author, artist and explorer, travelled with Louis-Claude de Saulces de Freycinet on his 1817 voyage on the Uranie. Dispatched to determine the shape of the earth once and for all, the corvette carried 120 men and 23 officers, as well as Freycinet’s young wife, secreted on the poop deck. Uranie visited Australia, East Timor, many Pacific islands and South America before being wrecked in the Falklands in February 1820. Arago made more drawings of Indigenous Hawaiians than any other European visitor, and the voyage resulted in his best-known book, Voyage autour du monde, published soon after he returned to Paris. Though he lost his sight in 1837, he continued to travel and write for the theatre.
Jacques Arago’s brother was the scientist and politician François Arago (1786–1853). The inscription on this work translates as ‘Your name reflects the great name of your brother/ To you, François, the skies, to you, Jacques, the earth.’