Das Leben des Malers Johann Weber von Bern. [Published as:] XVII Neujahrstuck, herausgegeben von der Kunstler-Gesellschaft in Zurich auf das Jahr 1821. COOK: THIRD VOYAGE, Sigmund WAGNER, WEBBER.

Das Leben des Malers Johann Weber von Bern…
Das Leben des Malers Johann Weber von Bern. [Published as:] XVII Neujahrstuck, herausgegeben von der Kunstler-Gesellschaft in Zurich auf das Jahr 1821

Zurich: n.p., 1821.

Square octavo, aquatint frontispiece, 13pp. with engraved oval portrait at head of first page; a fine copy in the original printed brown wrappers, preserved in a folding bookform case.

Elusive biography of the great Cook voyage artist, with portrait and view

Only edition: with the famous engraved portrait of John Webber, the official artist of Cook's third voyage. This was the only contemporary portrait of Webber to have been published.

Only edition: with the famous engraved portrait of John Webber, the official artist of Cook's third voyage. This was the only contemporary portrait of Webber to have been published.
This biographical essay, the main source for what little is known of Webber's life, is based on letters and oral communications Wagner collected soon after Webber's death in 1793, including information from the artist's brother Henry. A stand-alone and separately-paginated publication, this was issued as one of a series of small printings put out by the Society of Artists (Kunstler-Gesellschaft) in Zurich who seem to have produced an annual publication every New Year over some decades.
Wagner's pamphlet not only features an attractive frontispiece based on Webber's image of the burial platform in Tahiti, one of the more famous images from his Voyages in the South Seas (plate VIII), but is especially notable for the engraved portrait of Webber himself by K. Meyer. For such a prolific artist there are curiously few known likenesses. He did paint a miniature self-portrait now held in Bern, and this painting was used as the basis for a larger work by Johann Daniel Mottet in 1812. One or other of these very similar paintings was evidently the basis for Meyer's engraving. Significantly, the only other lifetime portrait of Webber appears to be John Spiller's marble plaque of the artist in profile (now in the Rex Nan Kivell collection in the National Library of Australia).
Forbes knew the work only from the Sir Maurice Holmes copy in the UCLA library.
Ian Boreham wrote about the publication in the periodical Cooks Log (vol 42, no. 2, April 2019):
"This book was published in Bern, Switzerland, as Siebenzehntes Neujahrstueck, herausgegeben von der Kunstler-Gesettschaft in Zurich auf das Jahr 1821. Enthaltend das Leben des Maters Johann Weber von Bern. [Seventeenth Yearbook, published by the Artists Society of Zurich in the year 1821. Containing the life of the painter John Webber of Bern.]
"John Webber was the artist on Cook's Third Voyage. He was born in 1751 in London to a Swiss father and English mother. John was sent in 1757 to Bern, where he was brought up by his aunt Rosina Esther Waber. He trained as an artist in Bern and in Paris, before returning to London in 1775. His first exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1776, led to him joining Resolution later that year. After the voyage, Webber stayed in Britain until 1787, when he toured France, Italy and Bern. He died in London in 1793.
"Sigmund Wagner wrote his account of Webber's life based on conversations he had with John's brother, Henry Webber, and some letters written by John Webber. The book has only 13 pages. The text begins on page 3, with an engraving of Webber above it, signed "K. Meyer, sc. 1820".
The sepia aquatint frontispiece is an untitled engraving, below which is written, on the left, "J. Weber del", and on the right, "F. Hegi". The image was described by Webber as being of "A Toupapow or Burying Place at Huaheine". He inscribed the original painting, "drawn from nature at Huaina 1777". Another version of the painting is held at the Kunstmuseum, Bern, and may have een given away by Webber when he was there in 1787. In the centre of the image is a priest surrounded by masonry walls. To the left is an offering table, and to the right a covered platform called a. fata tupapau. On the far right is an open roofed enclosure".

Forbes, 'Hawaiian National Bibliography', 533; not in Beddie.

Price (AUD): $7,850.00  other currencies     Ref: #4302366