Reflections by award-winning maritime historian Joan Druett, author of many books about the sea
Search This Blog
Monday, December 20, 2010
THE NEW ZEALAND EDITION OF TUPAIA
Illustrating the down-under edition
British Library, 15508/12
There was some excitement last week when acquisitions editor at Random House New Zealand, Jenny Hellen, sent in the first draft for the jacket of the down-under edition of Tupaia, due to be launched in May.
The design is still under wraps, so I cannot reveal it. What I can say is that it is brilliant and wonderful and eye-catching and irresistible. I can also tell you that it features Tupaia's iconic artwork, Joseph Banks trading a piece of tapa cloth for a lobster, in a stand-off with a Maori fisherman.
This is how it is described in the text:
Tupaia, who had been entertained by the busy trade in lobsters, made a sketch of Banks trying to barter a piece of tapa for a particularly large crayfish, held firmly by its Maori owner. It is his most famous work, because of the emotions expressed in the humorous little scene. Both figures have their legs braced, and are glaring into each other's eyes; the Maori holds the lobster by a string, ready to snatch it back at the first opportunity, while Banks keeps his piece of tapa just out of reach. The outcome of the battle of wills is left to the imagination of the viewer.
Many years later, Banks noted that this sketch is a caricature, which was exactly as Tupaia intended. Then the scientist dismissed it by saying "all wild people" possessed a "genius for Caricature" -- for him, it was nothing remarkable. What he did not take into consideration was that the sketch is unique.
It is the only surviving portrait of Joseph Banks himself that was made on the voyage of the Endeavour.