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The Art Gallery of New South Wales (Australia), Historic Deerfield (Deerfield, Massachusetts), the Honolulu Academy of Arts and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco usually have Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique on display.
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The panels show many historical events loosely based on the reports of James Cook and La Pérouse and drawings made by members of their crews. Some of the figures of Pacific Islanders were based upon frescoes from ancient Pompei, which had been rediscovered in 1748, and others upon well-known Greek and Roman sculptures. Machine-made continuous paper, just invented, was not yet commercially available when Dufour undertook his project. Instead, small rectangular handmade sheets were joined at the edges to form long rolls, which were later cut to the desired length (approximately 24 by 98 inches or 61 × 249 cm). A toned, water-based ground layer was then applied by brush to the entire panel to act as an undercoat for subsequent printing. This light blue layer also served as the sky tone in unprinted areas. Designs for each color were carved on separate blocks, and as many as sixty were required to print a single panel. The design was then enhanced with stenciled hand-painted gouache.
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In 1806 the French entrepreneur and wallpaper manufacturer Joseph Dufour et Cie, in collaboration with a designer Jean-Gabriel Charvet, produced a twenty-panel set of scenic wallpaper entitled Sauvages de la Mer du Pacifique (Savages of the Pacific). The wallpaper was printed in color from multiple woodblocks. It was the largest panoramic wallpaper of its time, and marked the burgeoning of a French industry in panoramic wallpapers. Dufour realized almost immediate success from the sale of these papers and enjoyed a lively trade with America. The Neoclassic spirit currently in favor was accented handsomely in houses of the Federal period by the exaggerated elegance of Charvet's scenes.
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Charvet's reputation rests on twenty-panels of scenic wallpaper titled Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique (The Savages of the South Pacific) which combine to form a neoclassical depiction of the explorations of Captain James Cook. The wallpaper was shown in Paris at the Exposition des produits de I'industrie francaise in 1806. Charvet died in Tournon-sur-Rhône, France in 1829.
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Jean-Gabriel Charvet (1750–1829), also known as Jean Gabriel Charvet, was a French painter, designer and draftsman who was born in Serrières, Ardèche, France. He studied at the École de Dessin in Lyon under the French artist Donat Nonotte (1708-1785) and worked as a designer for the French wallpaper manufacturer Joseph Dufour et Cie (1752-1827) of Mâcon, France. In 1773, Charvet travelled to Guadeloupe in the Caribbean on business for his uncle, and stayed for four years producing many studies of native flora and fauna, as well as landscapes. By 1785, he had established a drawing school in Annonay, south of Lyon. Annonay had been a papermaking region since the Sixteenth Century.
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William Bligh of Mutiny on the Bounty fame was sailing master on HMS Resolution (depicted in panel 8), and explorer George Vancouver was a 21 year old midshipman on HMS Discovery.
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