John Webber, the official artist on Cook’s Third Voyage, produced a remarkable body of work to illustrate the last of Cook’s voyages. On his return to England the Admiralty employed him to oversee the engravings of his original work to illustrate the official account of the voyage published in 1784. No sooner was the official account published, with its magnificent folio atlas, than Webber set about the exhibition of his South Seas paintings at the Royal Academy, to great acclaim, no doubt resulting in his election to the Royal Academy as an Associate in 1785.
Looking to capitalise on the success of the official account of the Third Voyage and of his exhibition at the Royal Academy, Webber began a very successful collaboration with Maria Prestel, an expert in the process of aquatinting. Born in Nuremberg in 1747 Prestel became a pupil of the painter and engraver Johann Prestel, marrying him in 1769. When the couple separated in 1786 Maria moved to London with her daughter Ursula, where she worked for the publisher John Boydell creating aquatints. Her success in London was cut short by an early death in 1794 a few months short of her 47th birthday.
The first two of these four aquatints were issued in 1787 and the second two in 1788. They were the first of 20 views of the Pacific which Webber produced which were not included in the atlas accompanying the official account published in 1784. Only the first four were produced as aquatints, with the remainder being soft ground etchings printed in sepia and grey so as to resemble sepia and wash drawings (cf. Forbes).
Four aquatints: 300 x 430mm (plate size), with full margins, View in Pulo Condore with 5 closed tears to margin expertly repaired, A View in Annamooka with 2 closed tears to margin expertly repaired, View in Ulietea 2 closed tears to margin expertly repaired. Fine impressions, preserved in a modern blue cloth portfolio with black morocco label lettered in gilt to upper.
Forbes I, 140; Beddie, 1869 (Dixson Library); Joppien & Smith, 3.44Ah, E.120Ac, 3.157Ab, 3.397Ac; cf. Hill, 1836.
Stock ID: 98726