||This engraving after a drawing by John Webber comes from the official account of Cook's third voyage, 'A voyage to the Pacific Ocean', published by Scatcherd and Whitaker in 1784.
Captain James Cook (1728-1779) made three separate voyages to the Pacific (with the ships Endeavour, Resolution, Adventure, and Discovery) and did more than any other voyager to explore the Pacific and Southern Ocean. Cook not only encountered Pacific cultures for the first time, but also assembled the first large-scale collections of Pacific objects to be brought back to Europe. He was killed in Hawaii in 1779.
Cook was in Nomuka (Annamooka), Tonga or Friendly Isles from May 1-14, 1777.
"On May 2 1777 the expedition reached Nomuka and anchored in the harbour on the north side of the island, which Cook had already used in June 1774. Both ships were in want of refreshments. A camp was erected on shore both as a trading post and a workshop for repairs. Watering, cutting wood, and above all bartering for food became the main occupation during the next days."
The centre of the picture is dominated by a large circle of people seen from above; Webber possibly observed the occasion from some elevated position or simply adopted the bird's eye perspective as a useful device. Cook is seated between two chieftains insude a hut. People on all sides, either laden with fruit, or simply as spectators, are flocking to the ring. Others are attempting to get a better view from the trees. Cook is thus made the object of an honorary act, by which friendship between the Tongans and their foreign visitors was demonstrably cemented.
This drawing is remarkable for being one of the few in Webber's oeuvre of the voyage in which individuals are represented in special postures.
Many studies were necessary to build up a comprehensive scene like this.
Mounted in album with PAI4078-PAI4134, PAI4136-PAI4214.; Page 179.