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Sea Horses (before title)


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Gallery locationNot on display

Object details:

Object ID PAI4177
Description 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 the Arctic Sea between Aug 11- September 3 1778. In this engraving, a party of men from the ships are firing at walrus. The first shooting of walrus occurred on 19 August, a second and third on 27 and 28 August 1778. ‘On the ice lay a prodigious number of Sea horses and as we were in want of fresh provisions the boats from each ship were sent to get some… They lay in herds of many hundred upon the ice, huddling one over the other like swine, and roar or bray very loud, so that in the night or foggy weather they gave us notice of the ice long before we could see it. We never found the Whole herd a sleep, some were always upon the watch, these, on the approach of the boat, would wake those next to them and these the others, so that the whole herd would be awake presently. But they were seldom in a hurry to get away till after they had been fire[d] at, then they would tumble one over the other into the sea in the utmost confusion, and if we did not at the first discharge kill those we fired at out right we generally lost them tho’ mortally wounded. They did not appear to us to be that dangerous animal some Authors described, not even when attacked, they are rather more so to appearance than reality.’ Walrus were again shot during the ships’ second stay in the ice, on 11 July 1779. Mounted in album with PAI4078-PAI4176, PAI4178-PAI4214.; Page 221.
Date made Aug 1778

Artist/Maker Webber, John [engraver]
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Materials engraving & etching
Measurements Sheet: 400 x 570 mm; Plate: 272 x 410 mm
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