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People of Norton Sound (title in pencil)

PAI4179

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Gallery locationNot on display

Object details:

Object ID PAI4179
Description Mounted in album with PAI4078-PAI4178, PAI4180-PAI4214.; Page 223. 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. The Resolution and the Discovery were in Norton Sound, Alaska between 11-16 September 1778. In this engraving we are shown a woman with a child on her right shoulder, both covered by a cloak, and carrying a wooden bucket; at left behind her a man and a log hut. A kayak drawn up on the shore at right, behind a rack for hanging nets and drying fish. Descriptions of the inhabitants of Norton Sound, who were only encountered briefly, are sparse. The family whom Webber has drawn may be the one which Cook met on the afternoon of 13 September ‘…a family of the Natives came near to the place where we were taking off wood… I saw no more than a Man, his wife, and child…” The description that King gives in part reflects Webber’s representation: ‘Some of their jackets were made with a good deal of Taste & instead of resembling a close shirt or farmers frock, as amongst the other Indians, those had an opening at the hips & hung down before & behind in circular flap; they wore leather breeches, or rather trousers, that came half way down the leg, some had boots. All their jackets had hoods to them & we did not observe that they had any covering to their head….The good woman had a child upon her back cover’d with the hood of her jacket; I thought it some bundle till it began to whimper, but on the womans saying some words in a Soothing tone, it remain’d very quiet.’ Samwell described the houses: “This part of the Coast is but thinly inhabited, the Houses are built together in small Villages on the Sea Shore but we saw a lonely hut here and there on the flat land at a great distance from any others; they are built of different Shapes but mostly square, they are but small, will not contain above 6 or 7 people conveniently; some of them have flat roofs others slanting, they are about six feet high in the middle and 5 or six yards long and as many broad; the sides of the are made by laying one Timber on another horizontally, others are constructed with Timbers fixed in the Ground and slating obliquely upwards, with the interstices filed up with Grass; the Tops are covered with Grass & stones.’ This is the first of two such engravings.
Date made September 1778

Artist/Maker Webber, John
Pouncy, Benjamin Thomas
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Materials engraving & etching
Measurements Sheet: 275 x 415 mm; Plate: 255 x 400 mm
Parts
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