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An Accurate Representation of a Canoe of The Sandwich Islands, The Rowers Being Masked

Date: c 1900
Sight: 240 x 375 mm
Overall: 285 x 425 mm
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Engraving
Object No: 00040049
Place Manufactured:London

User Terms

    This black and white print shows a double canoe with 10 masked rowers near the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii). A view of Kowrooa village is in the background and one rower holds what appears to be an idol of the Hawaiian war god, Kuka'ilimoku. This is one of many prints that mirror an original watercolour sketch painted by John Webber in 1779 when the RESOLUTION and DISCOVERY were moored at Kealakekua Bay, Hawaii.
    SignificanceThis engraving represents the indigenous population of Hawaii and British maritime exploration during the 18th century. It was produced more than 100 years after Webber's original painting, illustrating the public's continuing interest in the region. The background view of Kowrooa is a significant reference to the place where Captain James Cook was killed in 1779.
    HistoryJames Cook is credited as the first European explorer to discover Hawaii, a chain of islands and atolls that he named the Sandwich Islands in 1788. On 14 February 1779 during Cook's third voyage to the Pacific the local Hawaiian population stole one of the expedition's boats. Cook reacted by taking their chief hostage and in the subsequent outbreak of violence Cook was killed near the village of Kowrooa. This was the site where the Hawaiian King Kalaniopu'u had established a temporary centre during Cook's stay.

    Cook's Pacific voyages substantially increased European knowledge of the area and many crew members wrote descriptions and sketches of the islands' people, geography, flora and fauna. John Webber was the official artist on board and produced more than 200 drawings illustrating this period of first European contact with traditional Hawaiian customs, albeit from a European point of view. His watercolour sketch of a canoe in the Sandwich Islands was inspired from a scene he witnessed at Kealakekua Bay in 1779. A double hulled canoe had come close to Cook’s moored ships with 12 masked rowers onboard, one of which was holding a feathered figure. They paddled to the shore and made no attempt to directly communicate with the Europeans.

    The published account of Cook's Pacific expeditions contained written narratives, coloured illustrations and charts. They generated great public interest in what was an exotic and foreign part of the world. The untimely death of Cook at Hawaii also helped fuel the fascination.
    Additional Titles

    Primary title: An Accurate Representation of a Canoe of The Sandwich Islands, The Rowers Being Masked

    Web title: An Accurate Representation of a Canoe of The Sandwich Islands, The Rowers Being Masked

    Related People
    Engraver: J G Wooding

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