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John Webber
"A Dance in Otaheite" (Tahiti), Engraving from Captain Cook's 3rd Voyage

1784

About the Item

"A Dance in Otaheite" (Tahiti) is an engraving created by William Sharp (1749-1824), from a drawing by John Webber (1752-1793), who was the artist on Captain James Cook's 3rd and final voyage of discovery. It is a plate in the atlas of "A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean Undertaken by the Command of His Majesty, for Making Discoveries in the Northern Hemisphere", the official British Admirality sanctioned journal published upon completion of the voyage in London in 1784 by Strahan & Cadell. Two women and two men wearing ceremonial costumes, performing a dance outdoors standing on a mat. Three men are playing the drums in the background, in front of a thatched roof building. An audience of men are sitting on both sides of the stage. By the time Webber arrived in Tahiti, 'south sea' imagery had become familiar. Webber gave concentrated attention to dance. He had the opportunity to distinguish the Tahitian dance from the more formalized dancing of Tonga. Whereas they seem to have called to mind the more formal dances of antiquity, the Tahitian dancing aroused memories of peasant and folk dancing. This engraving is professionally framed in Koa wood. Koa wood is legendary in Hawaii. Not only is this amazing wood native to Hawaii, but it is known for the deep rich colors and varied grain pattern. Koa has an honored heritage in Hawaii and is highly revered and sacred. The word “koa” means “warrior” in Hawaiian. The warriors of King Kamehameha the Great, created canoes and weapons from a wood plentiful on the Big Island of Hawaii. This wood became synonymous with the warriors themselves, and it became known as koa. The print is in excellent condition. There are three other engravings listed from the official journal of Captain Cook's 3rd voyage available that are presented in identical Koa wood frames and double mats (LU117324682432, LU117324684052, LU117324684062). They would make a wonderful grouping for a display of 2, 3 or 4 prints. A discount is available for a grouping depending on the number of items included. Hawaii was discovered by Captain Cook during this voyage. Hawaii was originally called The Sandwich Islands in honor of The Earl of Sandwich who, as head of the British Admiralty, authorized the funds necessary to finance the voyage. Captain Cook was killed by natives in Kealakekua Bay on the big island of Hawaii in 1779. His ships the Resolution and Discovery then returned to England. Other notables who were part of this expedition included Captain William Bligh, Cook's sailing master, who would later go down in history as captain of the mutinous crew of the Bounty and George Vancouver who would later explore and chart North America's northwestern Pacific Coast regions, including the coasts of Alaska, Washington, and Oregon, as well as the province of British Columbia in Canada. Vancouver Island and the city of Vancouver, British Columbia are named for him, as is Vancouver, Washington.
  • Creator:
    John Webber (1751 - 1793, British)
  • Creation Year:
    1784
  • Dimensions:
    Height: 21.75 in (55.25 cm)Width: 23.75 in (60.33 cm)Depth: 0.88 in (2.24 cm)
  • Medium:
  • Movement & Style:
  • Period:
    1780-1789
  • Condition:
  • Gallery Location:
    Alamo, CA
  • Reference Number:
    Seller: #38541stDibs: LU117324684022
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