Noël was taken as draughtsman on the astronomer Chappe's expedition to California and Mexico in 1768-9 to observe the transit of Venus. The expedition left France in September 1768, arrived in Vera Cruz in March 1769 and crossed Mexico (from San Blas via the capital to the Cape of St. Lucas) by litter and mule in twenty-eight days. Chappe observed the transit from the Mission of St. Joseph but died two months later. His Voyage en Californie pour l'observation du passage de Vénus was published posthumously in Paris in 1772.
Noël was required 'to take draughts of the sea-coasts, plants, animals and whatever we might meet with that was curious'. Ten of his Californian and Mexican drawings were acquired by the Cabinet Royal in 1778 and are now in the Louvre. He exhibited 'La Mort de l'abbé Chappe' at the Salon de la Correspondance in 1779. The artist went on to pursue a career as a marine painter in the genre of Joseph Vernet and no Mexican oils appear to have survived. For his work in Mexico see M.H. Benisovich, 'A French Artist in Mexico in 1769' in the Detroit Institute of Arts' The Art Quarterly, XVII (1954), pp. 142-3.
The animal in the foreground is a jaguar, a Maya earth-god often represented by Maya sculptors and in masked rituals as a supernatural creature with a grimacing face.