Lauvergne was from a family with no previous naval tradition. He first arrived in Australia on board the 'Astrolabe' for its 1826/1829 voyage of the Australian coast. His skills as a draughtsman helped him depict the landscapes and people he encountered.
naval draughtsman and marine painter, was born in Toulon, France, his date of birth being given variously as 1 June, 4 July and 5 July 1805, while his date of death at Carcès, Provence, is sometimes stated as 1875 rather than 1871. He was born into a middle-class family which had no previous naval tradition but which slowly developed one: Barthélemy, his son-in-law, his brother Hubert and his nephew all filled administrative positions within the French Navy. Barthélemy Lauvergne’s long and modest career (he retired in 1863 without having achieved any notable position in the hierarchy) was distinguished only by his skills as a draughtsman, which earned him passages on three great voyages to the Pacific, as well as involvement in a number of lesser scientific expeditions in northern Europe and the North Atlantic.
From 1826 to 1829 he served in the Astrolabe as secretary to Dumont d’Urville, visiting – like de Sainson – five points on the Australian coast. The commander had instructed 'young Lauvergne, my secretary, to take views of all the coasts and islands which we saw during the voyage, and his work fills three folio volumes of two hundred pages each’. Fourteen folios of his Australian coastal profiles are included in the collection now in the Archives Nationales. Dated views of Sydney (December 1826, ML) and Hobart Town ([December] 1827, ALMFA) and undated crayon and watercolour, pencil and sepia sketches of Sydney Harbour (ML) are further records of this expedition. He also recorded views and drew zoological specimens during the three months in 1827 that the expedition cruised the New Zealand coast. Yet from that voyage the only picture by Lauvergne which seems to have been contemporaneously reproduced is that of Midway-House, on the Way to Elizabeth-Town (Van Diemen’s Land) , lithographed by Bichebois and published as plate 164 in the Atlas Historique illustrating the voyage. The artist’s biographer Fontan, however, suggests that de Sainson may have made unacknowledged use of some of Lauvergne’s drawings.
Sailing under Laplace on board the Favorite from December 1829 to April 1832, serving both as the commander’s secretary and as the expedition’s official artist, Lauvergne revisited Hobart Town (July-August 1831) and Sydney (August-September 1831). The three aquatints of Australian subjects which appear in the Atlas to this voyage are all after his drawings. They comprise views of the Derwent River in Van Diemen’s Land, of Sydney Harbour and of Woolloomooloo ('Vooloo-moolo’) at Port Jackson. His third great expedition, on the Bonité under Vaillant, did not visit Australia but the Atlas for this voyage is reported to be almost entirely his work.
Like Louis le Breton and Charles Meryon , Lauvergne sought to turn his artistic skills and distant experiences to further advantage, exhibiting in the Paris Salon from 1838, when he showed Frigate Running before the Wind, Sea Study (Cape Horn) , until at least 1849. He was awarded a third-class medal at the 1839 Salon and became a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur in 1841. From 1841 to 1854 Lauvergne was in Paris, working in the Naval Ministry and in the Department of Maps and Charts where his colleagues would have included le Breton. He returned to Toulon in 1854 and retired in 1863.
Lauvergne’s earliest works are drawings in various media. Subsequently he tried his hand at lithography (many of his compositions were also lithographed by other artists), but in the later part of his life he concentrated on oil paintings of harbour scenes and maritime events. Recorded works include The Shipwreck of the Corvette the Astrolabe Commanded by M. de la Pérouse, on the Reefs of the Island of Vanikoro (Salon 1842), View of the Port and Town of Algiers Taken from the roadstead (Salon 1844), View of the Fort of Mers-el-Kébir at Oran (Salon 1848) and Shipwreck at the Entrance to Mers-el-Kébir (1868, Narbonne Museum).