John Webber: Man of Nootka.
Webber's illustrations are almost
photographic. His task was to give accurate visual
representation to everything the expedition encountered,
and he succeeded. His sketches, paintings and
engravings, even after they have been blurred and
distorted by the process of reproduction, give us a sense
of the visual experience of the men on those ships.
Webber's art was documentary. It focused on the surface
of the world he witnessed. Its perfection predicted the
invention of the camera. The Mooachaht's art, in
contrast, presented the forms beneath the surface. It
was more sophisticated in approach, more serious in
intent, though the Europeans, their appreciation numbed
by their judgment, found it primitive, barbarous, and