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A man of Van Diemen's Land
, 1773-1784

by John Webber

etching and engraving, printed in black ink, from one copper plate (image: 22.6 cm x 17.7 cm, sheet: 28.4 cm x 22.2 cm, support: 62.4 x 38.7)

On loan to the National Portrait Gallery

John Webber was born in London, the son of a Swiss sculptor, and was apprenticed in 1767 to landscape artist Johann Aberli. He later studied in Paris before returning to London and being admitted to the Royal Academy, where he first exhibited in 1776. Botanist Daniel Solander, who had sailed on the Endeavour with Cook and Banks, admired Webber’s works at this first exhibition and recommended him for the role of official artist to Cook’s imminent third voyage. The illustrations Webber subsequently made were included in the official record of the voyage, and contributed greatly to its commercial success. Webber was often visited by people keen to hear tales of the journey on which Cook died, and see the drawings and the curiosities he had amassed. He exhibited paintings and drawings relating to the expedition at the Royal Academy, and made a modest income from reworking drawings for sale on commission. Apart from his connection with Cook, throughout his working life Webber was best-known for his landscapes, but he continued to produce portraits until the time of his death.

Collection: National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Purchased 2013
Accession number: LOAN2018.21.6