The Cook-Russian Connection—Rare Prints from Sir Maurice Holmes’ Library
40. ECKSTEIN, J[ohannes or John] & [Joseph Constantine] Stadler. 2 copper-engraved prints, as follows:
Print 1: To The Right Honorable The Lords Commissioners of The Admiralty of Great Britain. This Plate, Representing the Arrival of the Discovery and Resolution, under Captains Clerke and Gore, at St. Peter and St. Paul, in Kamschatka, the 29th of April 1779, is Respectfully Dedicated by their Most Obliged and Humble Servt. [text wanting, but de la Garde] [Left below neat line]: [Des]igned & Etched by J. Eckstein. [right below neat line]: Aqua Tinta by J. C. Stadler. [London? ca. 1780s?]. Copper-engraved plate; aquatint with contemporary hand coloring. Image area and title: 45.2 x 59.5 (17-3/4 x 23-3/8 inches). Small loss at lower left costing a few letters; trimmed at bottom with some loss of text. A few minor closed tears at edges. Professionally deacidified. (The photograph in this catalogue was made before restoration.) Provenance: Sir Maurice Holmes. Beddie 1785.
Print 2: To The Right Honorable Sir Joseph Banks, K. B. This Plate, Representing the Departure of Captains Gore and King, Accompanied by Major Behm, Governor of Kamschatka, with the Affectionate Taking Leave of the [Govern]ers Lady and the Inhabitants of Bolscheresk, as Emphatically Described in Captain Cook’s Third Voyage, is Respectfully Dedicated by His Most Obliged and Humble Servt. [text wanting, but de la Garde] [Left below neat line]: Designed & Etched by J. Eckstein [right below neat line]: Aqua Tinta by J. C. Stadler. [London? ca. 1780s?]. Copper-engraved plate; aquatint with contemporary hand coloring. Image area and title: 45.2 x 59.8 (17-3/4 x 23-1/2 inches). Small losses at upper and lower left; losses at lower corners costing a few letters; trimmed at bottom with some loss of text. A few minor closed tears at edges. Professionally deacidified. (The photograph in this catalogue was made before restoration.) Provenance: Sir Maurice Holmes. Beddie 1786 & 1787.
Beddie does not date the prints, but the National Library of Australia suggests: “[London: s.n., 178-?].” These two prints are uncommon depictions of events on the continuation of Cook’s third voyage, now under Clerke’s command. After Cook’s death at Hawaii, Clerke recovered the remains of Cook’s body, completed repairs, rallied his sailors, and determined to explore further the American coast in search of the fabled Northwest Passage. The expedition travelled north, arriving at Kamchatka in the spring of 1779. Major Magnus von Behm, the Russian commander at the post, was extremely obliging and rendered every aid and comfort possible to the expedition while it was in port, providing tobacco, cattle, and even a horse for the ailing Clerke to ride. Henry Roberts aboard the Resolution recorded that the English were so grateful that Behm was “saluted with 13 guns & cheers from ye people for his extraordinary civility & unbounded generosity.” It was from here that Clerke in June, 1779, sent the news overland through Russia to England that Cook had been killed. The announcement appeared in the British press in January, 1780.
The two views document an often overlooked aspect of the third voyage and the role the Russians had in its success, the two forming bookends to the visit. The first view shows Russian troops lined up on shore meeting the English and has a somewhat foreboding aspect to it, depicting three lines of armed Russian soldiers supported by citizens gathering with cudgels and two manned cannon in the background. The second view, by contrast, is a busy scene showing the English departing and is filled with many symbols of gratitude towards and friendship with the Russians.
A prolific engraver, German-born Stadler (fl. 1780-1812) is primarily known for landscapes and portraits (including British royalty and William Pitt); his work also encompassed cartography. Stadler engraved works by artists such as Turner and was active with the Boydell firm and others. Prideaux refers to Stadler as “a master of aquatint” (p. 126). See Abbey for numerous references to Stadler’s work. Eckstein (d. 1798 in London) was a portrait painter and engraver, excelling in mezzotint. Eckstein and Stadler worked together on various projects, such as prints glorifying Lord Nelson and a suite of aquatints of the Caribbean, Picturesque Views of the Diamond Rock... (London, 1805; see Abbey 689 & Prideaux, Aquatint Engraving, pp. 334). (2 prints) ($10,000-20,000)
Images (click to enlarge)
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