View of Manila, Capital of Luzon Island, Philippine Islands

Description

This lithograph is one of 65 that were included in the volume of maps published after the round-the-world voyage of the corvette Seniavin commissioned by Tsar Nicholas I and carried out in 1826‒29 under the command of Captain Fedor Litke (the Russian version of the name of Count Friedrich Lütke, a Baltic German). The expedition began in Kronstadt (the main imperial Russian naval base near Saint Petersburg where Russian circumnavigations typically began and ended); it then traveled around Cape Horn to the Pacific Ocean. This voyage was one of many Russian scientific naval surveys in the first part of the 19th century. Amid the tensions of the early 1820s over borders and fishing rights in the North Pacific involving Russia, Great Britain, and the United States, the tsar originally intended to send the Seniavin to the region as a warship. When these issues were resolved in the Russian-American and Anglo-Russian conventions of 1824 and 1825, the Seniavin instead was sent to survey the Alaskan and Asian coasts. The book, based upon the voyage and published in French in the early 1830s, offered new information of great interest to geographers and the wider scientific community in Europe at this time. The voyage of the Seniavin resulted in novel charts and names for new islands and geographical features in the Bering Sea and wider stretches of the Pacific Ocean. Litke visited New Archangel (present-day Sitka), the capital of Russian America, as well as Unalaska, the Pribilof Islands, Saint Matthew Island, and the Commander Islands in the Bering Sea. After a provisioning stop in Petropavlovsk on the Kamchatka Peninsula, the Seniavin surveyed the Asian coastline of Russia up to the Bering Strait. Litke also sailed to other regions in the Pacific Ocean, including Valparaiso in Chile, the Bonin Islands (present-day Ogasawara Islands, Japan), the Mariana Islands, the Seniavin Islands (discovered by Litke, in Micronesia), Manila and Luzon in the Philippines, and the Caroline Islands. As was customary on such voyages, Litke was accompanied by scientists and artists. Many of the scientists were among the leading experts in their fields at the time. They included the geologist Aleksandr Postels and the ornithologist Friedrich Heinrich von Kittlitz, who identified many new species of birds on the voyage. Both men produced many drawings on natural and ethnographic subjects, from which these lithographs are derived. Later in his career, Litke became a tutor for a son of Tsar Nicholas I, a founder of the Russian Geographic Society, and a military governor of Reval (present-day Tallinn, Estonia) and Kronstadt.

Last updated: December 20, 2017