A naval officer, hydrographer and explorer, Gavriil Sarychev (1763-1831) had long and illustrious career. He enrolled in the naval cadet corps at age 8, began his service at age 18 as midshipman, and died as Acting Minister of Russian Imperial Navy. In 1785, Sarychev was assigned to the Northeast Secret Geographical and Astronomical Expedition under Captain Joseph Billings. From 1786 to 1793 the expedition explored Arctic coast of eastern Siberia and made two voyages to Alaska, surveying the Aleutian Islands, Gulf of Alaska, Alaska Peninsula, St. Lawrence and Diomede Islands, and the east shore of Bering Strait. In the course of the expedition Sarychev was promoted to captain (2nd rank) and given command of the ship Slava Rossii during the expedition’s second voyage to Unalaska. His journals contain both a detailed description of the expedition and sketches of Kamchatka and the Aleutian Islands, which he often signed, perhaps to draw the distinction from the work of the expedition’s artist, Luka Voronin. After his return to St. Petersburg, Sarychev published two accounts of the expedition: Travels of the Naval Captain Sarychev in the Northeast Siberia, Icy Sea and Eastern Ocean and Travels of the Captain Billings across the land of Chukotka from the Bering Strait to Nizhnekolymsk. The former was accompanied by an atlas of charts and images of Siberian and Alaskan coasts. The images in this atlas are traditionally attributed to Sarychev, although some may be based on Luka Voronin’s original sketches. The engraver who transferred the original sketches into the illustrations romanticized the scenes and portraits, making people’s faces and attire looking almost European. In 1806, the atlas was published in English with a reduced number of images. "Atlas of the Northern Part of the Pacific Ocean" compiled by the Imperial Navy Department and published under Sarychev’s name in 1826 also contains some images.
Sarychev spent the rest of his life in St. Petersburg. He was made Vice Admiral in 1808, commander and military governor of Kronstadt in 1828 and full Admiral in 1830. A year later he died of cholera in the great epidemic of 1831, leaving behind an unfinished book on history of Russian ports.
Sources and Literature:
Grinev, Andrei. Kto est’ Kto v Russkoi Amerike: An Encyclopedic Dictionary [Who is who in Russian America: an encyclopedic dictionary]. Moscow, 2009.
Pierce, Richard. Russian America: A Biographical Dictionary. The Limestone Press. Kingston, Ontario and Fairbanks, Alaska, 1990.
Sarychev, Gavriil A. Puteshestvīe flota kapitana Sarycheva po severovostochnoi chasti Sibiri, Ledovitomu moriu i Vostochnomu okeanu, v prodolzhenie osʹmi liet, pri Geograficheskoi i astronomicheskoi morskoi ekspeditsii byvshei pod nachalʹstvom flota kapitana Billingsa s 1785 po 1793 god.[Travels of Naval Captain Sarychev in the Northeastern parts of Siberia, Icey Sea and Eastern Ocean, during eight years, while in service of the Geographic and astronomic sea expedition commanded by Naval Captain Billings]. St. Petersburg: Tipografiya Shnora, 1802.
Sarychev, Gavriil A. Puteshestvīe kapitana Billingsa chrezʺ Chukotskuiu zemliu ot Beringova proliva do Nizhnekolymskago ostroga, i, Plavanīe kapitana Galla na sudnie Chernom Orle po Severovostochnomu okeanu v 1791 godu: s prilozheniem slovaria dvenadtsati nariechii dikikh narodov, nabludeniya nad stuzheyu v Verkhnekolymskom ostroge, i nastavlenīya dannago kapitanu Billingsu iz Gosudarstvennoi admiralteistv-kollegii. [Travels of Captain Billings across the Chukchi land from the Bering Strait to Nizhenakolymsk fort, and voyage of Captain Gal on the ship Black Eagle across the Northeastern Sea in 1971: with an addition of dictionary of 12th indigenous languages, observations on cold temperatures at the Verkhnekolymsk fort, and the instructions given to the Captain Billings by the State Naval Department] St. Petersburg: Morskaya Tipografiya, 1811.
Sarychev, Gavriil A. Account of a Voyage of Discovery to the North-East of Siberia, the Frozen Ocean and the North-East Sea. (Amsterdam, N. Israel; New York: Da Capo Press, 1969), v. 1-2
Sarychev, Gavriil A. Atlas kart i risunkov k puteshestviyu v severo-vostochnuyu chast’ Rossii I na ostrova severnoi chasti Tihogo okeana flota kapitana G. Sarycheva [Atlas of Maps and Drawings of the Voyage in the Noth-East Part of Russia and on the Islands of the Northen Part of the Pacific Ocean by the Fleet of Captain G.Sarychev]. St. Petersburg, 1802.
Sarytschew, Gawrila. Account of A Voyage Of Discovery To The North-East of Siberia, The Frozen Ocean and The North-East Sea, London: Richard Phillips, 1806.
Sarychev, Gavriil A. Atlas severnoi chasti Vostochnogo Okeana sostavlen v chertezhnoi gosudarstvennolo admiralteiskogo departementa [Atlas of the Northern Part of the Eastern Ocean compiled by the State Navy Department]. St. Petersburg: Morskaya tipografiya, 1826.
Titova, Z.D. Ethnograficheskie materialy Severo-Vostochnoi ekspeditsii, 1785-1795 [Ethnographic materials of the North-Eastern Expedition, 1785-1795] (Magadan: Magadanskoe knizhnoe izdatel’stvo, 1978).