The Fan Palm in the Island of Cracatoa.

London: 1788-92 & 1809 (1820). This view on Krakatoa, in which Webber artistically portrays the impressive fan palm, is offered here in two versions; a Lifetime issue & the Boydell issue. The rare lifetime issue was self-published by Webber and is a soft ground etching. This is an extremely rare hand colored copy, which according to Sir Maurice Holmes, was colored by Webber himself. J. Webber fecit. 1788. London Pubd. Augt. 1, 1788 by J. Webber No. 312 Oxford Street. Vide Cooks last Voyage Vol. 3 Chap 10. Impression mark 312 x 426 mm with large margins. Excellent condition. Paper watermarked "Whatman" but without a date. Joppien & Smith 3.415A but this issue colored, which is not listed by Joppien & Smith.
(with)
the Boydell edition of the print, London. Pubd. April 1, 1809 by Boydell & Compy. No. 90 Cheapside. Vide Cook's Last Voy. Vol. 3 Ch. 10. This image is Joppien & Smith 3.145b, and has the accompanying letterpress. Both are watermarked J. Whatman 1820; the print margins are a little dusty and ruffled and the text has a long diagonal tear.

Joppein and Smith examined this image in detail, concluding that it marked a departure from 18th century traditional landscape painting. "More than ever now Webber recorded the botanical production of the tropics, depicting many markedly different plants in the same view. This new bent may be noted in "The Plantain Tree"... and "A Fan Palm"... Both drawings are remarkable for the density and plastic handling of the organic forms. These slices of exuberant nature differ from all of Webber's previous work. Particularly in "A Fan Palm" Webber heralds a new approach to landscape, in which no longer an extended view is unrolled and distance measured by natural components such as lakes, hills, rocks and mountains. In closing the background and renouncing open vistas, Webber presents us with a close-up of impenetrable thickness of stems, leaves and branches. Entangled in this luxurious natural growth, the eye confronts little spatial recession, as had been the ruling convention. Proceeding from a new interest in the depiction of exotic plants Webber breaks away from the traditional forms of landscape, in which fore-, middle- and background must play their role. In fact in drawings like "A Fan Palm" the traditional components of the eighteenth-century idea of the picturesque have become obsolete." (Joppein & Smith, "The Art of Captain Cook's Voyages", Yale UP, 1998, vol. 3 text, p150-1).

There is quite a variation in the coloring between the two images. The early image is notable for its much gentler color palette, showing the fan palm in dark green, the overarching trees quite tan and sage green and highlighted with gum arabic. The Boydell edition shows the fan palm as strongly highlighted with yellow, as if the sun were striking it, and the taller trees are dark brown and green. There is no gum arabic highlighting this plate. Item #14342

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