Portrait of Yuri Lisianski, V. Borovikovsky, 1810, oil on canvas, Russian Naval Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.
Best known for his involvement in the first Russian round-the-world voyage, Yuri Lisianski was a naval officer and explorer. Born in Nezhin (nowadays Ukraine) and educated in St. Petersburg, he saw his first naval battle at the age of 15, when he served as a naval cadet on a Russian warship during the Swedish war. In 1793, he was sent to serve in the British fleet. Over the next four years he participated in a number of British naval campaigns, sailing to North America, Africa and India. In 1802, he was tasked with purchasing two ships for the first Russian round-the-world voyage from St. Petersburg to Alaska. Designed with the objective to open a direct line of supply between the Russian capital and American colonies and exploring new avenues for trade, this expedition also pursued many scientific goals. During the voyage, Lisianski assembled an impressive collection of Alaskan material, including charts and ethnographic collections from Kodiak and Sitka, and returned to the Russian capital in July 1806.
After the voyage, Lisianski commanded ships in the Baltic Sea. He retired from active service in 1809 and occupied himself with preparing his notes about the voyage for publication. The Admiralty turned down his manuscript three times on the ground of many errors in the Russian language. He finally self-published both the textual account and illustrated atlas in 1812, and then translated his Voyage round the world into English. The book was published in London in 1814.