La Belle

Small flute of CAVELIER de LA SALLE expedition, (1684).

A few years ago, a team of American archaeologists from the Texas University found a wreck, close to the mouths of Mississipi, and launched a program of excavating on the site. This wreck represented the remains of the bark "LA BELLE", small flute which was part of the expedition of CAVELIER de LA SALLE, sent from France to explore the mouth of Mississipi.

In 1686, at the time of a big storm on the Texas banks, LA BELLE ran aground and was lost. The Texan archaeologists have excavated the site dried by an iron boards enclosure. The American have dedicated big means to this research and have recovered numerous remains, various objects, equipment parts, bronze guns, and the entire skeleton of the bottom of this ship. The publicity made in the U.S. about this wreck and the historical event that it represented for the American patrimony have definitely brought this small ship out of anonymity.

Under these circumstances, it is not surprising that Jean BOUDRIOT has been requested to do his own researches in French Navy Archives, and so, he has been able to rebuilt what this ship should have been.

This light ship was built in Rochefort in 1684. The restoration that J. BOUDRIOT has made is mainly based on the genuine tender of LA BELLE, and some other originals documents. Besides, he took notice of excavation results provided by the Americans. In order to complete the monograph he was preparing, J. BOUDRIOT has requested Bernard FRÖLICH to built a model, to publish some pictures of it. So, he gave him scheme and pictures of LA BELLE at the time he made them up.

So, Bernard FRÖLICH started the construction of the model here presented at the scale of 1/24 fitting which such a small ship. But, in order to stay in his common scale, he built at the same time a second model at the scale of 1/48, which was acquired in 2000 by the "Musée National de la Marine" in Paris.

This model, as the other one, is handled as "shipyard model". The starboard side is entirely covered, while on portside, the frame is visible with half on the deck. The model is fully rigged, but without the sails.

According to the habits of the model maker, the used woods are pear tree, ebony, and boxwood for wood-carving. Guns are in bras shaped and darkened. Some parts of the masting are in ebony, as well as all the blocks.

This model, built in 1999, required 800 hours of work. Its construction was the purpose of a long article illustrated by many colour pictures in issue 217 of NEPTUNIA review belonging to the AAMM ("l'Association des Amis du Musée de la Marine.")

The size of the model are as follows:
Length = 92 cm.
High = 80 cm.
Width = 45 cm.