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Charles-Alexandre Lesueur (1778-1846)

This site is dedicated to the French naturalist and scientist Charles-Alexandre Lesueur, also known as Alex the Explorer, the hero of a graphic novel with plenty of action and adventure, inspired by the travels of this courageous nineteenth-century discoverer. Historians Ritsert Rinsma and Hervé Chabannes, in collaboration with the talented artist Yves Boistelle, wanted to tell Lesueur's life story in a new, artistic way. The first album, entitled The Curse of the Serpent, is available since December 2007. And believe it or not, in 2021 Ritsert Rinsma and Yves Boistelle are still working on volumes two and three!

Moreover, Ritsert Rinsma has published two biographies of Lesueur in French and English. The first was released at the same time as the graphic novel. The second, entitled Eyewitness to Utopia: Scientific Conquest and Communal Settlement in C.-A. Lesueur's Sketches of the Frontier, is available since August 2019. Each work contains over a hundred reproductions of drawings by Lesueur, who was not only a great explorer but also an excellent draughtsman.

Follow these links to find out more on the subject:

The historical figure:

The hero of the graphic novel:

Alex the Explorer by Yves Boistelle

This website is sponsored by the Australia France Foundation (AFF)


Alex the Explorer by Yves Boistelle


What you will find on this web site!

Interesting articles on the travels of Charles-Alexandre Lesueur to Australia and America

Important historical texts on the scientific activity of this French explorer

Two video clips presenting the drawings of the first graphic novel in the series Alex the Explorer

A making of explaining how The Curse of the Serpent came to be

Interviews with Yves Boistelle, Hervé Chabannes and Ritsert Rinsma



Lancasters attacking Le Havre by Yves Boistelle

Alex the Explorer

The adventure begins during the Second World War...

The scene is set in August 1944. The allied forces have landed in Normandy, but Le Havre is still occupied by German troops, and so the port is still regularly bombed by American and English warcraft.

As the explosions get nearer to the city centre, several courageous volunteers try to save the collections of the Natural History Museum of Le Havre. Among those are artefacts given to the city by the French explorer and scientist Charles-Alexandre Lesueur (1778-1846).

During the evacuation of the main building, Jeanne Bonnamie and Michel Marsin tell the story of this exceptional man, who traveled around the world between 1800 and 1837, exploring the South Pacific Ocean, Africa, Australia and Timor, as well as the Northern Atlantic Ocean, England, the Antilles and the USA.

Here are some illustrations by Yves Boistelle that appear on the first pages of the graphic novel, showing British Lancasters bombing Le Havre and three heroes trying to save the collections of the Le Havre Natural History Museum. Their names are: Michel Marsin, Hervé Furetier and Jeanne Bonnamie.

Find out more about Alex the Explorer


In the Footsteps of Charles-Alexandre Lesueur

For twenty years already, historian and author Ritsert Rinsma has been trying to piece together C.-A. Lesueur's life in all its details, traveling from archive to archive around the world. He has found many manuscripts and drawings of the explorer in museums and private collections. Rinsma's journeys also allowed him to put together several interesting photo albums, for example of New Harmony, Indiana, the utopian town built by George Rapp and his Harmonist, the theater of Robert Owen and William Maclure's utopia, where Charles-Alexandre Lesueur lived from 1826 to 1837.

More about Lesueur's utopia

New Harmony, Indiana, by Ritsert Rinsma


A New Book on C.-A. Lesueur: Eyewitness to Utopia

After courageously defending the city of Paris in 1814 and 1815, first to protect Napoleon, next to get rid of him, Charles-Alexandre Lesueur was in need of a better world. A philanthropic businessman provided the opportunity. Enthused by his scientific knowledge, William Maclure brought the French explorer to the United States. There he met the Founding Fathers and all the great minds of his time. Every knowledgeable American agreed to this: no one knew more than Lesueur. He was a living encyclopedia, the most talented student of Georges Cuvier. His contributions to American science were revolutionary. Then, suddenly, history forgot about him when together with a group of intellectuals he created an experimental scientific utopia. Abandoned by most of his friends on the American frontier, he initiated its geological exploration and systematic discovery.

Read it all in: Bauke Ritsert Rinsma, Eyewitness to Utopia: Scientific Conquest and Communal Settlement in C.-A. Lesueur’s Sketches of the Frontier, drawings by Charles-Alexandre Lesueur, foreword by Edouard Philippe, Donald E. Pitzer and Ralph G. Schwarz, translated by Leslie J. Roberts (Heuqueville, France: Heiligon, 2019).

The honorable Edouard Philippe, MP, Prime Minister of France, declared about Eyewitness to Utopia: "I am delighted that the present memoir reveals the immensity of this historical figure from Le Havre."

Dr. Donald E. Pitzer, Director Emeritus, Center for Communal Studies at the University of Southern Indiana, wrote: "By happy coincidence, Lesueur’s fellow Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville took his own investigative tour of the United States in 1831-1832 while Lesueur was still in New Harmony. Tocqueville articulated his astute observations of the country’s social and political institutions and practices in his incisive Democracy in America, published in 1835. Lesueur made a similar contribution with his incomparable sketches, documenting America’s natural and built environment, its ancient and living wildlife, and the utopian vision of its people. Two centuries later, Ritsert Rinsma’s Eyewitness to Utopia presents Lesueur’s artistic gift to the New World in its most complete rendition and elevates this artist, scientist and communitarian to his own proper status among the most notable figures in the early Republic."

Dr. Ralph Grayson Schwarz, Founding President of Historic New Harmony, wrote: "In this groundbreaking book, Ritsert Rinsma, with his comprehensive knowledge and acute perceptions, has succeeded masterfully in capturing the significance of Charles-Alexandre Lesueur, illuminating the context of his meaningful American sketchbooks."

Click here to download your free sample pages of Eyewitness to Utopia





Cover of the book Eyewitness to Utopia by Bauke Ritsert Rinsma and Charles-Alexandre Lesueur

Cover of the book Eyewitness to Utopia, written by Ritsert Rinsma, and illustrated by Charles-Alexandre Lesueur, showing New Harmony, Indiana

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