Man of Van Diemen's Land

This drawing was made by John Webber, artist on Captain Cook's third voyage, during a brief stop on the coast of Tasmania in January 1777. Cook recorded that the aborigines were 'quite naked and wore no ornaments except the large punctures or ridges raised on their skin'. The tendency in portrayals of Pacific peoples by Cook's artists was to present them in what was thought to be a sympathetic light, sometimes as noble savages approximating classical ideals.

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by Stephen Luscombe