[A View of the Town and Harbour of St Peter and St Paul, in Kamtschatka]. COOK: THIRD VOYAGE, John WEBBER, after, B T. POUNCY.

[A View of the Town and Harbour of St Peter and St Paul, in Kamtschatka].

London: circa 1784.

Engraving, 253 x 533 mm. to plate mark, paper size 290 x 540 mm.; a little light old creasing at right side; in fine condition.

Rare proof impression

Rare proof impression of one of the most atmospheric views made by Webber to illustrate Cook's third voyage: the St Peter and Paul ostrog as seen during the expedition's first visit to Avacha Bay.

Rare proof impression of one of the most atmospheric views made by Webber to illustrate Cook's third voyage: the St Peter and Paul ostrog as seen during the expedition's first visit to Avacha Bay.

This wonderful panorama of St Peter and St Paul, with Cook's ships at anchor in the bay, would later appear as plate 74 in the atlas to the official account of the third voyage. Webber's image depicts the small Kamchatkan settlement with its inhabitants fishing in front of their distinctive dwellings, all in an untouched landscape with wooded coastline and distant snow-covered mountains. It offers an arcadian vision of the place wildly at variance with what it would become: modern Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, now a major commercial port and the home of Russia's nuclear submarine fleet. It was at St Peter and St Paul that the battered vessels called in late April 1779, and here that Major Behm agreed to take the news of Cook's death overland to St. Petersburg.

This is an early state of the print, before letters. The temporary credits here scratched into the plate are differently worded to the final version that would appear in the publication: here there is no caption identifying the view and the image is identified as "Drawn from Nature by J. Webber" and "Engraved by B.T. Pouncy". In the finished version these would be differently expressed as "J. Webber del." and "B.T. Pouncy sc.". The proof engraving is printed on a noticeably different paper and its inking is distinctly finer than the examples of the finished version with which we have compared it. The result is a greater tonal quality.

Joppien and Smith discuss the Kamchatkan visit at some length in both text and catalogue volumes of their study of the art of Cook's third voyage. In their description of the related watercolour view now in the Dixson Library in Sydney they note that the original version has probably been lost and that the Dixson watercolour is probably related to the engraving process.

This is a desirable and rare version of one of Webber's most successful images from Cook's third voyage.

Joppien & Smith, 3.328A (the finished engraving).

Price (AUD): $4,850.00  other currencies Ref: #3611651