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

by John Webber

etching and engraving, printed in black ink, from one copper plate (image: 22.8 cm x 17.8 cm, sheet: 28.2 cm x 22.2 cm, support: 62.4 cm x 38.7 cm)

On loan to the National Portrait Gallery

As the official artist on James Cook’s third expedition between 1776 and 1780, John Webber was tasked with making drawings and paintings of places touched at by the voyagers and to ‘observe the genius, temper, disposition and number of the natives . . . shewing them every kind of civility and regard.’ During this voyage, European contact was established with Hawaiian and British Columbian indigenous people for the first time, and the Resolution’s crew were amongst the first Europeans to meet the original inhabitants of Alaska and Kamchatka. In late January 1777 Resolution called at Bruny Island in Van Diemen’s Land, landing in the place which Tobias Furneaux had named Adventure Bay when he was there in 1773. Cook’s party were met by local people on a number of occasions during a three-day stay. ‘They came out of the Woods to us without shewing the least mark of fear and with the greatest confidence imaginable’, Cook wrote of the first group of Tasmanians they encountered, and another officer noted that the locals were ‘mild and chearfull without reserve or jealousy of strangers.’

Collection: National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Purchased 2013
Accession number: LOAN2018.21.7