fortross Description: Reproduction of the 1828 plate from Bernard Duhaut-Cilly’s travel journal
Artist: Auguste Bernard Duhaut-Cilly
Medium: Engraving
Narrative: Captain Bernard Duhaut-Cilly was thirty-six years old when he set out for the Pacific at the helm of Le Héros for a long trading voyage around the world. He reached San Francisco on January 26, 1827, and in order to sell his cargo, was forced to spend much more time in California than he had expected. He called at the ports of San Diego, Monterey, Santa Barbara and San Pedro in 1827, stopping at the missions and pueblos for trade, then spent several weeks at Fort Ross in 1828 after a voyage to Callao, and back to ports at Monterey and Bodega Bay.

A veteran navigator, Duhaut-Cilly was also an entertaining storyteller and had acquired considerable drafting skill during his service with the Imperial French Navy. He was able to draw maps of the coast and to sketch three of the settlements that he visited: Monterey, San Luis Rey, and Fort Ross. These views show his talent as a draftsman, being so detailed that they served as models in the restoration of the sites.

Duhaut-Cilly’s written accounts are as detailed as his sketches. A June 5, 1828 entry in his journal, in particular, depicts the settlement at Fort Ross as a large square fort built at the edge of a two hundred-foot cliff, enclosed by a solidly-built twenty-foot high wood palisade topped with iron spikes. A further comparison of the account and sketch makes it clear that the fort was protected by two hexagonal towers with cannons at each of its four gates, how the chapel served as a bastion as well, while the homes of Governor Pavel Shelekhov and his subalterns stood inside the square, together with storehouses and workshops.

The constructions scattered outside the compound were home to sixty Russian colonists, the flat huts sheltered eighty Kodiaks, and the conical huts as many native Indians. The partitions on the eastern slopes of the rise were built to protect the crops from both farm animals and wild animals. On the lower left corner, the artist represented one of two small coves that served as shelter and landing place for the colony’s small boats.

REPRODUCTION – A great memento of Russian California, printed on high-quality paper to preserve the clarity of details. Choose your size!

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