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A Sledge of Kamtschatka


Object connections:

Gallery locationNot on display
PeopleArtist: Webber, John
Engraver: Woodyer

Object details:

Object ID PAI3931
Description This engraving is after a drawing by John Webber from John Hawkesworth's account (1773) of the voyages of Captain James Cook, Joseph Banks and Captain John Byron. 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 sledge, in the Russian language, is named a Sandkey. Captain Cook brought one of the sledges away with him (along with 14 dogs) when he left Kamchatka. The first sledges drawn by dogs were observed in early May in the village of Petropavlovsk. The drawing most probably refers to the journey from Petropavlovsk to Bosheretsk or during the return in which Gore, King, and Webber took part. King gives an account of the mode of sledge travelling in the Journals, but elaborates on this in the official account: ‘They [the sledges] are seldom used to carry more than one person at a time, who sits aside, resting his feet on the lower part of the sledge, and carrying his provisions and other necessaries, wrapped up in a bundle, behind him. The dogs are usually five in number, yoked, two and two with a leader. The reins not being fastened to the head of the dogs, but to the collar, have little power over them, and are generally hung upon the sledge, whilst the driver depends entirely on their obedience to his voice for the direction of them…The driver is also provided with a crooked stick, which answers the purpose both of whip and reins; as by striking it into the snow, he is enabled to moderate the speed of the dogs, or even to stop them entirely.’ Loosely bound in album with PAI3893-PAI3930, PAI3932-PAI3936.; Plate No.71.
Date made 1779

Artist/Maker Webber, John
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Materials etching
Measurements Plate: 185 x 248 mm; Sheet: 390 x 535 mm
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