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John Webber made countless watercolours, pen and ink sketches and drawings on James Cook's third voyage to the Pacific (1776-80). These were the basis for the finished watercolours which engravers used in producing the 61 illustrations for the official published account of the voyage.
The Inside of a Hippah is the only New Zealand plate in the publication. This reflects the fact that only a short time was spent in the country on the third voyage, and also the cautionary approach taken during their stay here. The ships moored in Ship Cove, Queen Charlotte Sound from 12-25 February 1777. On Cook's previous voyage a boat load of people had been attacked and killed there. Consequently, shore parties were only made in large armed groups and Webber would have been restricted in his ability to record the area and its inhabitants.
Depicted is a scene from Queen Charlotte Sound, probably Motuara Island with the waters of the Sound to the right. Cook recounted visiting the Island on 15 February 1777, noting that it was currently uninhabited, although showed signs of recent occupation with parts rebuilt since their last visit. Webber, however, populates his view, placing four figures in conversation in the foreground, with another group beyond to the right. Joppien and Smith suggest that he does this "so as to strike a humane and deliberately pensive note, one which would appeal to current European sentiment." They add that European artists at this time still included 'staffage' to provide interest in landscape views and further it provided Webber with the opportunity to record the dress and weaponry of Māori. The inclusion of Māori housing reveals Cook's ethnographic interest. The Royal Society had recommended that he pay particular attention to the housing of the natives he encountered as it was indicative of the type of society, and he therefore made detailed notes about habitation practices on his journeys.
- The Inside of a Hippah, in New Zeeland
- Production date
- 255 x 410 mm
- Credit line
- Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 2009
- Accession no
- Other ID
- Plate No. 10
- No known copyright restrictions
- New Zealand Art
- Display status
- Not on display
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