Representation of the Death of Capt. Cook. COOK: DEATH, John WEBBER, after.

Representation of the Death of Capt. Cook.

London: imprint clipped, but S.A. Cumberlege, 1 July, 1781.

Engraving, 145 x 180 mm., laid paper, mounted.

Early and very important representation of the death of Captain Cook: evidently based on John Webber's original painting, this engraving actually predates the more famous Bartolozzi engraving with which Webber's name is now inextricably linked. As a result, this is the earliest recorded version of the print, and seemingly the earliest public representation of the infamous scene to be based on official witness accounts.

Early and very important representation of the death of Captain Cook: evidently based on John Webber's original painting, this engraving actually predates the more famous Bartolozzi engraving with which Webber's name is now inextricably linked. As a result, this is the earliest recorded version of the print, and seemingly the earliest public representation of the infamous scene to be based on official witness accounts.
As a note in Forbes suggests, this plate was originally issued to accompany a five-page article entitled 'A Succinct Account of the Life and Voyages of Captain James Cook', printed in the Universal Magazine for June 1781 (see Forbes 38). What is fascinating about this rather naïve popular print, is that the 1781 date of publication is at least a year earlier than the earliest imprint details on any of the large format representations of the death of Captain Cook engraved after Webber's original by Bartolozzi. Indeed, this is the earliest representation of Cook's death to be based on an official accounts, although at least one fanciful version is known from a German magazine of 1780.
Given that Webber was thought to have been working on the scene from 1781 at the latest, and given that he was famous for inviting any number of guests to view his sketches and see his atelier, it is apparently the case that this engraving was prepared by an artist who had access to Webber's originals. This is strongly implied in the full title of the original article in the Universal Magazine, which notes 'with an exact representation of the death of that celebrated navigator communicated by respectable authority and elegantly engraved on copper.'
Although the imprint has been clipped from this copy, comparison with other examples confirms the details. S.A. Cumberlege was the successor to the printer J. Hinton and married Hinton's widow. Beddie knew copies in the Mitchell and Dixson collections, and a copy is also recorded in the collection of Nan Kivell, now held at the National Library of Australia.

Beddie, 2650; Nan Kivell, 3.

Price (AUD): $750.00  other currencies     Ref: #3003085

Condition Report