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Copperplate textile, Cook's Voyage

c. 1785
Origin: England
O: 28" X 76" Two different selvage widths of 27 1/2" and 28". Repeat 29" 56 warps per inch; 52 wefts per inch.
Cotton, plain-woven
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1963-193
Sepia on off-white copperplate-printed cotton fragments of a bed curtain. The textile shows scenes taken from Captain James Cook's journeys to Tahiti and New Zealand. Each scene is separated and framed by shells, seaweed, and a chain formed by C-scrolls of coral. The scenes are as follows: 1) Maori war canoe with carved head and stern ornaments is paddled out of a cove. 2) A figure wearing mourning dress composed principally of shells, mother-of-pearl, and feathers stands near a tree; in the right background is a shed in which the covered body of the deceased lies. 3) Two dancers are accompanied by a flute player as a fourth person stands nearby. 4) A dramatic dance is performed by 2 women and 2 men who are accompanied by a drummer. Tropical trees and vegation appear in each vignette. The textile is printed on plain-woven cotton ground. The sepia color was probably purple originally. The textile is now in three pieces, joined to create a full repeat. Remnants of linen tape finish the top; the bottom is hemmed, and selvages form the side finish.
Label:This textile, once a bed curtain, is based on published engraved scenes of the South Pacific, documented by explorer and cartographer Captain James Cook. Cook was a captain in the British Royal Navy who fought in the Seven Year’s War and mapped areas of the Saint Lawrence River and Newfoundland. He sailed into largely unmapped areas of the world, including Australia, Hawaii, and New Zealand. His adventures were made known to the British public through a number of books published during the 1770s and 1780s, and artists and engravers depicted the exotic scenes in prints offered for sale.
Mark(s):"FG" below figure of seated boy playing drum; blue threads in selvages.