||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.
John Webber was the artist on Cook’s third voyage from 1776-1780.
Cook was in Matavai Bay, Tahiti, Society Islands from August 24-September 30, 1777. Matavai Bay was the most famous place in the South Seas, already visited on several occasions and made known by engravings after Sydney Parkinson and William Hodges.
The girl wears a 'dress' consisting of a prodigious quantity of tapa cloth bound about her waist. This and the two feather gorgets, or breast plates, fastened to the 'hoop' or her skirt, were intended as presents to the two captains. This exchange of presents as a ritual gesture for establishing friendly relationships is a recurring theme in Webber's work, particularly in his large compositions. Cook informs us that there were in fact two girls, who 'were conducted on board the Ship with several Hogs and a quantity of fruit.'
This is the first of two such engravings.
Mounted in album with PAI4078-PAI4154, PAI4156-PAI4214.; Page 199.; Plate No. 29.