A View in the Island of Rotterdam.
Published Feb.y 1st, 1777 by W. Strahan in New Street, Shoe Lane, & Thos. Cadell in the Strand, London.
Copper engraving. 265 x 410mm, 10½ x 16". Large margins.
Nomuka, one of the islands of Tonga, visited by Tasman, Cook and Bligh. When Joseph Banks abandoned his plan to accompany James Cook on his second voyage to the Pacific, the artists he intended to take with him—the well-known German artist Johann Zoffany and three topographical artists (James Miller, John Frederick Miller and John Cleveley)—were also withdrawn from the voyage. In their place, the Admiralty board appointed William Hodges, landscape painter. Unlike the artists of the first voyage, Hodges was to be directly under Cook’s orders. Early in the voyage Hodges was occupied with coastal profiles and tutoring a number of the midshipmen in topographic drawing. As the voyage progressed he showed a growing interest in recording atmospheric phenomena. Painting through the windows of the great cabin on the Resolution, Hodges was practising a form of ‘plein airism’ that would not become fashionable until the nineteenth century, when it would herald a transformation in western art. Hodges’ ‘Landing’ paintings, unlike his other work relating to the voyage, were designed and painted according to the conventions of history painting then fashionable in England. These conventions drew upon attitudes, compositions and costumes borrowed from classical sculpture and the masters of Italian painting, although the innovation of including contemporary costume gained increasing acceptance through the works of Benjamin West. Depicting the early European contact with Pacific Islanders, Hodges’ paintings, and the engravings made from them to illustrate Cook’s second voyage journal, contain all the drama one would expect in the making of history. Cook, determined to take the public presentation of his second Pacific voyage into his own hands, rewrote his journal a number of times throughout the voyages, perfecting an account of which he would be the hero. Hodges, a great admirer of Cook and well aware of the historical importance of his discoveries, has created the illustrations to support Cook’s heroic role. Pl. no. XLIII of "A Voyage Towards the South Pole and Round the World: Performed in His Majesty’s Ships the Resolution and Adventure, in the Years 1772, 1773, 1774 and 1775." in 2 vols. James Cook, London, 1777.
[Ref: 20043] £140.00