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The Book

Travelers’ published accounts of their expeditions to Latin America, which combined narrative description with beautifully printed scientific renderings of animals and plants and landscapes, were enormously popular in Europe during the 19th century. Planning to publish such a book, Morisot dedicated considerable attention to narrating his impressions and experiences of his travels to Venezuela and up the Orinoco River in a journal. Filling a total of nineteen volumes, Morisot often described the difficult conditions of travel and his astonishment at the color and beauty he encountered in the landscape. Beholding a view of the hills around the Orinoco town Cabrutos, he wrote: “The panorama is magnificent. One loses sight of the water, whose long band is obstructed by a string of mountains, the farthest peaks of which are a fine blue gray and disappear into the sky.” After he returned to France, he annotated his drawings with the numbers that can be seen marking many of the works on view, and which correspond to numbers inscribed in the margins of his journal at the appropriate moment in the narrative sequence. He also copied and distilled the drawings he intended to include in his book, often repeating a single image across different media, as he did of a woman who boarded his ship at Guadalupe, the expedition’s first stop en route to Martinique.

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