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This volume of 16 exquisite folio, aquatint engravings with original hand-coloring is after John Webber’s original paintings from Captain James Cook’s third voyage. The work is entitled Views in the South Seas: From Drawings by the Late James Webber, Draftsman on Board the Resolution, Captain James Cooke, from the Year 1776 to 1780. The work was published in London by Boydell & Co in 1808.
The watermarks on the paper are dated 1820 but do not distinguish the editions (Hill Collection of Pacific Voyages, 1837; Holmes, M. Captain James Cook 79). The plates are interleaved with letterpress descriptions. It is bound in half red morocco, raised bands, spine stamped in gilt.
This is a remarkable volume of folio views from an artist of great import. The work was the only color plate book on the subject of Pacific exploration. The work features the only originally hand-colored engravings published depicting Cook’s third voyage.
John Webber (1751-1793) was an English artist. He served as the draftsman and official artist for Cook’s third voyage. His images of Hawaii, Alaska, and Australasia have given him great renown. Webber was the first European artist to make contact with Hawaii (then the Sandwich Islands).
About the voyage:
James Cook was already a celebrated Captain by 1776, having completed two scientific expeditions for the Admirality and Royal Society. He embarked on this third voyage on the HMS Resolution and HMS Discovery in hopes to find the Northwest passage. The passage was blocked by ice, but it resulted in Cook’s discovery of the Hawaiian Islands, the charting of Alaska’s coastling, and the exploration of the North Specific up to 70° N. The expedition returned South to Hawaii where Captain Cook met his untimely demise over a fight over the theft of a cutter in Kealakekua Bay. His second lietenant, James King, made a second attempt at the Northwest passage before returning to England via China and the Thames.
“The famous accounts of Captain Cook’s three voyages form the basis for any collection of Pacific books. In three great voyages Cook did more to clarify the geographical knowledge of the southern hemisphere than all his predecessors had done together. He was really the first scientific navigator and his voyages made great contributions to many fields of knowledge” (Hill).
“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 over a boat. 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).
Provenance: Book plate present reading James Edge Partington. There is also a stamp present reading: Mrs. Philip E. Spalding, 2411 Makiki Heights Rd / Honolulu, Hawaii