Image Ship Cove, Queen Charlotte Sound

TLF ID R1766

This is an oil painting of Ship Cove in the Marlborough Sounds, South Island, New Zealand. It was painted by John Webber (1751-93) in 1788. In the foreground is a small group of Mäori and behind them are others, some in canoes, and a tent-like structure on the edge of a bay. A harbour and distant hills can be seen in the background.

Educational details

Educational value
  • This asset was painted 11 years after Webber visited Ship Cove as expedition artist for James Cook's third voyage to the Pacific - Webber painted from sketches he made while on the voyage, a common technique employed by artists, as the cramped conditions on board made it too difficult to paint.
  • It indicates that Webber combined his desire as a documentary artist to record accurately what he saw (the local people wearing traditional clothing) with his desire to compose a landscape according to artistic conventions of the time (a carefully balanced foreground, middle ground and background, lit by a calm golden glow from an undefined source).
  • It indicates that Webber presented the unfamiliar and exotic as acceptable and comforting to the European public by employing the artistic conventions of the day to create a familiar harmony and beauty in the scene.
  • It shows that Cook revisited Ship Cove on his third voyage - he had also spent time there on his second voyage.

Other details

  • Content provider
  • Copyright holder
  • Organisation: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
  • Remarks: Reproduced courtesy of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
  • Author
  • Date of contribution: 1788
  • Name: John Webber
  • Remarks: artist
  • Publisher
  • Date of contribution: 27 Aug 2013
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia
  • Address: Melbourne VIC 3000 Australia
  • URL:
Access profile
  • Colour independence
  • Device independence
  • Hearing independence
Learning resource type
  • Image
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer - minimum version: 8.0 (MS-Windows) - maximum version: 9.0 (MS-Windows)
  • Firefox - minimum version: (MS-Windows)
  • Safari - minimum version: 5.1 (MacOS)
Operating systems
  • MacOS - minimum version: 10.6
  • MS-Windows - minimum version: XP - maximum version: 7
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd and Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements