||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 visited Avacha Bay, Kamchatka between 29 April to 16 June 1779. Many of the drawings from this period show snowy scenes, especially of the town and harbour of St Peter and St Paul.
This engraving is a view towards the entrance of Avacha Bay. The village is shown on the sandy peninsula with Kamchatkan summer huts and Russian log huts. A mand and woman at left; a canoe containing three men in the central foreground, other groups of figures along the shore; the Resolution and Discovery in the Bay in the distance, further off a volcano.
‘The town or Ostrog of St. Peter & Paul stands upon a long narrow spit of Sand, which forms and separates the Harbour from the Bay of Awatschka except at a narrow entrance about a Stones throw across. It consists of 5 or six Russian log Houses and about 15 Kamtschadale Houses called Balagans & 3 or 4 Joorta’s.’
An interesting but minor point is the animal standing below one of the balagans. This could be the bull which Samwell refers to on 15 May, saying that ‘the Butchers were sent on shore to kill a Bullock which was procured for the Use of the Ships from he Serjeant.’ The bull may have been the only item of livestock in the ostrog, since milk which Clerke drank during was last period of illness, was brought from Paratunka.
The time depicted by the drawing is not clear. The preparatory drawings which Webber made of the houses were taken during the snowy period, but this might represent a time more advanced in the season, perhaps the end of May. The two ships are shown in the bay further to the sea, whereas during the second stay in Avacha Bay, when the bay had become more navigable, the ships were positioned nearer the head of the bay.
This is the first of three such engravings.
Mounted in album with PAI4078-PAI4203, PAI4205-PAI4214.; Page 248.