This collection contains a series of sketchbooks by François Louis Laporte, Count of Castelnau.
François Louis Laporte, Count of Castelnau (1810-1880) studied natural sciences in Paris under the aegis of Georges Cuvier and Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire. He became known for his studies of insects, before going on two expeditions to North and South America from 1837 until 1847.
At his return to France he was named consul in Bahia (Brazil) and started a diplomatic career which allowed him to travel around the world and to continue to work on scientific studies and to collect new specimens. He died 1880 in Australia.
During his diplomatic career, the Count of Castelnau served as consul in different regions of the world: in Brazil; at the Cape of Good Hope (at the time an English colony); in Siam (Thaïland); and finally in Australia, where he died. His diplomatic career took him to India, Malaysia, Sumatra, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and Singapore.
He collected specimens and drew in his notebooks wherever he was, creating an incredible collection of natural science. His paintings allowed him to record a notion of the original aspect of the animal, which lose their colours when preserved.
Today, the studies of this aquarelles allow a better understanding of his works and allow to identify a series of species which the ichtyologist Pieter Bleeker had described back then based on the drawings that Castelnau has showed him.