Jacques-Gérard Milbert (1766-1840) was a French naturalist and artist.
Milbert was a pupil of the landscape painter Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes, and went on to teach drawing at the
Parisian school of mines the "École nationale supérieure des mines de Paris" from 1795.
In 1800, Milbert embarked on Nicolas Baudin's voyage to Australia. During the voyage, Milbert and several other artists became
ill, and the artists and the captain came into conflict. This caused several artists, including Milbert, to leave the voyage
at Mauritius, leaving Charles-Alexandre Lesueur to produce the voyage's scientific drawings.
Milbert returned to France, where in 1812 he published a series of views of Mauritius, the Cape Colony and Tenerife,
titled "Voyage pittoresque à l'Ile de France, au Cap de Bonne Espérence et à l'Ile de Ténériffe", comprising two octavo
volumes of text, and one quarto volume of plates.
Jacques-Gerard Milbert's Views of America
In 1815, Milbert travelled to the United States, where he would remain for eight years, based in New York City, with the backing of the Museum of Natural History in Paris,
with instructions to explore, record and collect as much information about the topography, social history, and flora and fauna
of the north east of the country as possible. The task took him seven years, and in addition to the 8,000 natural history
specimens he sent back to France, he made a series of highly significant sketches of the areas through which he traveled.
As an artist, Milbert loved to paint American landscapes, particularly those that showed the Hudson, "King of Rivers",
flowing majestically through the mountains, the pictures of what he saw, as of the time he drew them, constitute a unique
and valuable record' (Sherman, A French Explorer in the Hudson Valley).
Milbert returned to France on October 20, 1823, and began teaching, again at the school of mines. He published several
further volumes, including drawings from his travels in the United States, with the title "Itinéraire Pittoresque du Fleuve
Hudson et des Parties Laterales.",
comprising 53 prints. Besides for his "Itinéraire Pittoresque", Milbert also produced a number of other series of views of America, including a set of images titled Amérique Septentrionale.
His views form one of the most comprehensive and accurate depictions of
the northeast in the period. They are also important early examples of the use of the relatively new medium of lithography
for topographical prints.
The prints in "Amérique Septentrionale" are slightly larger and much rarer than the
Itinéraire prints, and are one of the most desirable American prints.
Jacques-Gérard Milbert died on June 5, 1840.