Jean-Baptiste August Charcot (1867-1936) was the son of a well known and wealthy French neurologist. Although he completed his medical studies, he had no wish to to practice medicine and embarked on a career as a polar explorer.
He built the Français for his first expedition (1903-05), and accurately surveyed the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula. Afterwards, he built the most modern polar ship known to that date, the Pourquoi-Pas? (Why Not?), and extended his work along the Peninsula during 1908-10. He explored 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles) of unknown coastline. Between 1926-36, Charcot made regular oceanographic voyages to the Greenland Sea. In September 1936, the Pourquoi-Pas? wrecked along the Icelandic coast, where Charcot and most of his crew perished.
The exhibit at Paris' Musée national de la Marine, running from March 22, 2006 to October 2, 2006, begins with images and ship models related to French Arctic and Antarctic exploration in the 19th century. The viewer is quickly confronted with a host of drawings, paintings, photographs, ship models, personal effects and other artifacts, that guide one through Charcot's passion. Many of the items are on public display for the first time.
copyright 2006 Glenn M. Stein, FRGS
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Tuesday, 25 July 2006 08:09
Polar Explorer: Jean-Baptiste August CharcotWritten by Glenn Stein
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