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"Canoes of various Islands visited and discovered by the Waaksamheydt"

Artist: Raper, George
Created: [1791?]
Dimensions: 32.4 x 49.7 cm
Reference: Raper Drawing - no. 29


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Three drawings of indigenous people of various Pacific Islands paddling their canoes, and two plans of the canoes. At top left is a view of a grey-green canoe with an outrigger rowed by seven figures, with an eighth man standing towards the front brandishing a paddle. Their hair appears to be arranged into top-knots. At top right is a view of pale yellow-grey canoe with covered ends, and objects suspended from them. The outrigger is placed in the foreground, and there is a platform balanced across the centre of the canoe and the connecting poles. Six figures can be seen paddling the canoe, and five standing on the platform, holding bows and what appears to be fishing equipment. The plan at bottom right illustrates how the outrigger and platform are attached to the canoe. The view in the centre depicts a pale grey canoe rowed by eight figures, the front figure being disproportionately small, with a standing figure at the back holding a spear decorated with feathers. They all have straight, grey-white hair. Both ends of the canoe rise up in a crescent shape, and have a line attaching them to the outrigger, which is visible on the far side of the canoe. In the distance to the right is a view of a canoe end-on, illustrating the attachment of the outrigger. The grey ink and wash plan at bottom left further illustrates how the outrigger is attached to the canoe by a series of parallel poles. All the drawings are set in seascapes, with the sea represented by blue washes overlaid with irregular grey brush marks, the sky by blue and grey washes around unpainted clouds, and the shore by grey-green stippled marks and schematic palm trees. Each of the drawings is framed by a black ink border, inscribed with a title in a panel below, and separated from adjacent drawings by a band of pink wash. They are all enclosed within a triple-banded border with a central band of pink wash with a title panel at top.


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  • George Raper]
  • The drawing is inscribed in black ink at the top with the title "CANOES of various ISLANDS visited and Discovered by the WAAKSAMHEYDT". Each of the five drawings is individually titled underneath; at upper left, "of Earl Howes Group - 32 Islands", at upper right "of the Admiralty's Islands", at centre "of the Duke of York's Island St Georges Channel", at lower left "PLAN of the canoe of Duke of York's Island" and at lower right "PLAN of the Canoe of the Admiralty Islands".
  • The drawing is unsigned and undated.
  • The drawing is inscribed in pencil at bottom left with the number "29", at top right "28", and on the reverse "49".
  • Raper left Port Jackson for England in March 1791 on the Waaksamheyd, captained by John Hunter. Hunter gave an account of this voyage in An Historical Journal of the Transactions at Port Jackson and Norfolk Island (London, 1793), including their arrivals at the islands mentioned in the title in May-June 1791. Hunter discusses the construction of the canoes and the manner in which the people dressed their hair Journal is illustrated with engravings of canoes similar to those depicted in this drawing.
  • The author of this catalogue record is Suzanne Stenning.
  • By permission of the trustees of the Natural History Museum (London).
  • Two sets of transparencies held in the Natural History Museum (London) Zoology Library and Picture Library: Picture Library order number 15129
  • Miss Eva Godman donated 1962
  • Data sheet available.
  • Hindwood, K.A. 'George Raper: an Artist of the First Fleet', Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 50, Pt. 1, 1964 pp.32-57.