WEBBER, John (after); BARTOLOZZI, Francesco (engraver) & BYRNE, William (engraver).


Death of Captain Cook in February 1779,
by the murdering Dagger of a Barbarian at Carakakooa, in one of the Sandwich Isles. He having there become a Victim to his own Humanity. The Distressing Scene is Part of the original Plate after Webber by Messrs Bartolozzi & Byrne.
London, [1784].


Rare oval variant of the well-known Bartolozzi engraving of Cook’s death. Webber completed his oil painting of the scene soon after returning to London in 1780, and the print was first issued some four years later, with Bartolozzi taking responsibility for the figures, and Byrne the landscape.

Joppien and Smith argue that in the original image Cook is shown as ‘an innocent victim, killed in the act of pleading for peace’. This oval version of the scene focuses the attention entirely on Cook as he is surrounded by hostile Hawai’ians. Nothing can be seen of the British marines to whom Cook stretches out his arm – he stands alone, soon to fall at the hands of the angry warriors.


Oval engraving, 395 x 270mm (plate size), 538 x 374mm (sheet size), 10mm closed tear repaired to upper margin, otherwise particularly fine.


Not in Beddie; cf. Joppien & Smith, 3.305A.


Stock ID: 98648