Sunday, August 4, 2013

Goings On at the HNOC

Engraving accompanying Louis
Hennepin's Nouvelle découverte d'un
grand pays... (1697), where Louisiana
is depicted as a land of plenty inhabited
by calumet-wielding Natives.
A new exhibition at the Historic New Orleans Collection, "Pipe Dreams: Louisiana under the French  Company of the Indies, 1717-1731" covers... well, the title says it all.  Showcasing over one hundred items from the period, it tells the story of the Compagnie des Indes's monopoly over the colony during its formative years.  It addresses such themes such as Louisiana’s relation to the company’s other trade outposts, which stretched as far as the Indian Ocean; the establishment of a colonial capital at New Orleans; the popularity of tobacco in early modern France and the development of a tobacco culture in Louisiana.  The directors of the Compagnie indeed dreamed for a time of creating there a French version of the Chesapeake.  The HNOC's exhibition also looks at the diverse Native, European and African population of the colony during the company years, with a special focus on the war which pitted the French and their allies against the Natchez between 1729 and 1731.

One of the gems of the exhibition, which runs until September 15th, is the lavishly illustrated manuscript of Marc-Antoine Caillot's "Relation du voyage de la Louisianne [sic] ou Nouvelle France fait par le Sr. Caillot en l'année 1730".  Erin M. Greenwald, the curator responsible for this exhibition at HNOC, rediscovered it herself, edited it, and published it just this spring under the title A Company Man.

I wish I were in NOLA.


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