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The Reception of Captn Cook in Hapaee

Date: 1786
Overall: 517 x 386 mm, 80 g
Mount: 522 x 717 mm
Medium: Paper and ink
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Engraving
Object No: 00044268

User Terms

    This engraving is based on a watercolour and pen wash drawing by John Webber. It depicts the reception of Captain James Cook in May 1777 at Lifuka in the Ha'apai group of the Tongan islands. Two pairs of combatants, one pair boxing and the other fighting with clubs are shown enclosed within a large circle of spectators.

    SignificanceThis engraving documents a moment during Cook's third voyage in May 1777 as he passed through the central Pacific towards the Pacific North-West. Cook did not survive the voyage and Webber's sketches provide an important pictorial record of the events leading up to Cook's death at Hawaii in 1779.
    HistoryDuring the eighteenth century, Captain Cook's voyages contributed greatly to European knowledge of the Pacific and the published account of the expeditions proved to be extremely popular. This popularity was in part due to the many illustrations reproduced by the voyage artists - Alexander Buchan, Sydney Parkinson, Hermann Sporing, William Hodges and John Webber.

    Cook described his reception at Tonga in his journal. "Presently after a number of men entered the circle or area before us, armed with clubs made of green branches of the cocoanut tree, these paraded about for a few minutes and then retired the one half to one side, and the other half to the other, and seated themselves before the spectators: but soon after went to single combat, one or two steping [sic] forward from one side and challenging those on the other which was done more by actions than by words." Cook, Journals III, 1, 107.

    Webber's engraving first appeared as plate 14 in the official account of the third ' Voyage to the Pacific Ocean' (Cook and King, 1784). It was later reproduced and published in ‘A new, authentic, and complete collection of voyages round the world: undertaken and performed by royal authority. Containing a new, authentic, entertaining, instructive, full, and complete historical account of Captain Cook's first, second, third, and last voyages, published under the immediate direction of George William Anderson, Esq., assisted by a principal officer who sailed in the Resolution sloop, and by other gentlemen of the Royal Navy'.

    Additional Titles

    Primary title: The Reception of Captn Cook in Hapaee

    Web title: The Reception of Captn Cook in Hapaee

    Related People
    Engraver: James Heath

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