"The country is filled with gold, silver, copper and lead mines in various areas. […] The houses are simple and low as we see in our countryside […] People do well here, and age gracefully"
Le Nouveau Mercure, mars 1719, p. 184
"[Old Biloxi is located] in a remote bay where ships cannot enter without accident, located on a strip of land surrounded by swampland, the source of such pestilences that the town was ordered abandonded by the late Monsieur d'Iberville, and where more than nine hundred people have died in a year's time…"
Adrien de Pauger, Mémoire à "un Père de l'Oratoire", pour le Comte de Toulouse, Annales encyclopédiques, Paris, octobre 1818, p. 281-282 (1721)



In the early years of its exploration, the image of Louisiana was marred by the disappointment at only having found the Gulf of Mexico, instead of the expected passage to China. Nevertheless, Iberville's expeditions-and the hopes raised by Crozat's Company after the difficulties of the war-should have attracted a number of new pioneers to the colony. However, a rather lifeless emigration policy did not allow this.

Dupin (d’après Watteau), The departure of the comfort women for the American Isles
BNF, Estampes, Db 15 in f°
Dupin (d’après Watteau), The departure of the comfort women for the American Isles
BNF, Estampes, Db 15 in f°

It was only in 1718, after the propaganda efforts of John Law's Company, that Louisiana became fashionable.

Propaganda poster for Louisiana, ca. 1720
BNF, Estampes, Vd mat. 2/1a
Propaganda poster for Louisiana, ca. 1720
BNF, Estampes, Vd mat. 2/1a

The colony had its boosters, who talked about the eight hundred beautiful houses of New Orleans and the good life to be had there.

Le Nouveau Mercure, article de janvier 1720
BNF, Imprimés Le Nouveau Mercure, article de janvier 1720
BNF, Imprimés
Le Nouveau Mercure, article from January 1720
BNF, Imprimés

It also had its detractors, who echoed the horrible truth: between one half and two thirds of new arrivals either died at sea, or succumbed in their first few months from scurvy, fevers or dysentery. After Law's bankruptcy, the parody Agnès de Chaillot sent up Louisiana as a penal colony.


Exile in Louisiana, the ultimate punishment after Law's bakruptcy
Dominique et Legrand, Agnès de Chaillot (a parody of Inès de Castro by Houdar de La Motte, 1723), p. 32
BNF, Imprimés
Exile in Louisiana, the ultimate punishment after Law's bakruptcy
Dominique et Legrand, Agnès de Chaillot (a parody of Inès de Castro by Houdar de La Motte, 1723), p. 32
BNF, Imprimés

In 1725, a small group of Indians were all the rage at Court, but four years later, the Natchez Indian war dismantled the myth of the "good savage". At the same time, the adoption in 1724 of the Code Noir for Louisiana met with little opposition from philosophers and the Church, who were content to mutter a few disapproving phrases.
From an artistic standpoint, the exoticism of Louisiana was very little represented. A ballet by Lully in 1685, Le Temple de la Paix, celebrated the civilizing action of France on the "savages".

Dolivar (after Berain), design for the ballet The Temple of Peace in 1685
Bibliothèque de l'Opéra, Liv. 18 [R.12(3)] Bérain, ndian costume from the ballet The Triumph of Love
BNF, Estampes
Dolivar (after Berain), design for the ballet The Temple of Peace in 1685
Bibliothèque de l'Opéra, Liv. 18 [R.12(3)]
Bérain, indian costume from the ballet The Triumph of Love
BNF, Estampes

The lion's share of painters, sculptors and decorators under Louis XIV were inspired by America, but the paintings and decorative arts produced were most often just sycophantic allegories (for example, a number of "Negro-style" clocks were created).

Grébert, Grébert,
"Negro-style" clock, allegory for America (huntress and crocodile),
(Paris, vers 1800)
Musée du nouveau Monde,
La Rochelle

The magnificent tapestries of the Nouvelles Indes (1735) by François Desportes were mostly inspired by the adventures of the Company of the Indies.

Desportes,  Negress transported in a hammock (6e pièce de la Tenture des Nouvelles Indes, 1735)
Mobilier national, INV GMTT 185/4
Desportes, Negress transported in a hammock (6e pièce de la Tenture des Nouvelles Indes, 1735)
Mobilier national, INV GMTT 185/4

The same year, the last act of an opera by Rameau, The Gallant Indies, was set among the American "savages". The ending was virtuous, it must be pointed out-the beautiful Zima selects Adario, an Indian, as her husband, despite the advances of two handsome soldiers, one French and one Spanish. As for literature, the Abbé Prévost published Manon Lescaut in 1731. This scathing novel about the forced emigration of prostitutes to Louisiana is the most remarkable literary work dealing with Louisiana prior to Atala, published in 1801 by Chateaubriand.

Pasquier, The death of Manon in Louisiana
Abbé Prévost, Manon Lescaut, Amsterdam, 1753, p. 241
BNF,  réserve Imprimés Garnier,  I've been looking for you for a long time
Chateaubriand, Atala, Paris, 1805, p. 105
BNF,  réserve Imprimés
[1] Pasquier, The death of Manon in Louisiana
Abbé Prévost, Manon Lescaut, Amsterdam, 1753, p. 241 BNF, réserve Imprimés
Garnier, "I've been looking for you for a long time"
Chateaubriand, Atala, Paris, 1805, p. 105
BNF, réserve Imprimés