[CAPTAIN COOK'S THIRD VOYAGE; WEBBER, John (1752-1793) artist
A Man of the Sandwich Islands, Dancing
[London: G. Nicol & T. Cadell, 1784]. Etched and engraved by C. Grignion after a drawing by Webber. Image size: 10 1/4 x 7 inches. Sheet size: 22 x 15 1/2 inches.
In this attractive portrait, a young, muscular man dances what was then a sacred dance called Hula. In his right hand he holds a feather covered gourd. Virtually nude, he wears only a bark cloth "malo" or loin cloth, a coral necklace and dogtooth leggings. His body is tattooed in rhythmic patterns that flow down his arms and legs.
"Cook's third voyage was organized to seek the Northwest Passage and to return [the islander] Omai to Tahiti. Officers of the crew included William Bligh, James Burney, James Colnett, and George Vancouver. John Webber was appointed artist to the expedition. After calling at Kerguelen Island, Tasmania, New Zealand, and the Cook, Tonga, and Society Islands, the expedition sailed north and discovered Christmas Island and the Hawaiian Islands, which Cook named the Sandwich Islands. Cook charted the American west coast from Northern California through the Bering Strait as far north as latitude 70 degrees 44 minutes before he was stopped by pack ice. He returned to Hawaii for the winter and was killed in an unhappy skirmish with the natives. Charles Clarke took command and after he died six months later, the ships returned to England under John Gore. Despite hostilities with the United States and France, the scientific nature of this expedition caused the various governments to exempt these vessels from capture. The voyage resulted in what Cook judged his most valuable discovery - the Hawaiian Islands" (Hill).
John Webber, R.A., born in London of Swiss parents was the official artist on Cook's historic and final Pacific voyage. The drawings were the source for the engravings that illustrated Cook's "A Voyage to the Pacific", which was published in 1784.