Cunningham Gallery

"An Inland View in Ato'oi", 1790, John Weber / J. G. Wooding / Alex Hogg of London

$1,200.00 USD

Hand-coloured antique etching, framed in koa with gold fillet, triple mat and description plate.

Framed dimensions: 22.625" high x 26.75" wide.

Etching dimensions: 9.5" high x 15" wide.

The Hawaiian Islands, also known as the Sandwich Islands, is a chain of islands or coral atolls in the central Pacific Ocean. The best known of these was Hawaii Island and this engraving by J. G. Wooding is entitled "A Inland View at Ato'oi, One of the Sandwich Islands".  The original copperplate engraving was published in 1790 by Alex Hogg of London.  John Webber, Captain Cook's official artist, made the on-the-spot sketch of this village from which this engraving was made.  This scene shows the informal trading going on between Cook's men and the natives during that first visit to Hawai'i.

John Webber, the son of a Swiss sculptor, was born in London but was sent abroad for his early artistic education. In Berne he studied under J.L. Aberli, the originator of a picturesque manner of portraying Swiss mountain scenery. Returning to London, Webber studied at the Royal Academy schools. In 1776, through the influence of Dr. Solander, he was appointed official draughtsman on Captain Cook's third voyage. Cook himself emphasized the importance of professional drawings as a complement to scientific records: "Mr. Webber was engaged to embark with me," he wrote, "for the express purpose of supplying the unavoidable imperfections of written accounts." Webber made numerous drawings not only of landscape but also, in Cook's words, "of everything that was curious, both within and without doors." His sketches of natives, their houses, clothing, utensils, and customs add a vivid gloss to Cook's narrative. Webber was an eyewitness of Cook's death, and his painting of it, engraved by Byrne and Bartolozzi, became the standard representation of that tragic event.

On his return to London, Webber superintended the engraving of his drawings for the official account of the expedition published by the Admiralty in 1784, although his sketches of native faces and costume inevitably suffered some "Europeanization" in the engravers' hands. Webber himself engraved and published a series of Views in the South Seas (1787-92), and exhibited at the Royal Academy several paintings based on the voyage. He was elected Associate of the Royal Academy in 1785, and Royal Academician in 1791. From 1790 his exhibits there included English landscapes. He made several sketching tours in Wales and Derbyshire, delineating the rocky terrain with the same studious, attentive eye that he had bent on less familiar regions. He appears never to have essayed imaginative or deliberately romantic subjects. His draughtsmanship is invariably fine and detailed.

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