[Saint Petersburg]: [Morskaya Typ.], .
[Original Copper Engraving from the Famous "Atlas k Puteshestviiu Vokrug Sveta Kapitana Krusensterna" (Atlas to the Circumnavigation of Captain Krusenstern), Titled:] Tab. XXVIII. Grobnitsa Kapitana Klerka v Petropavlovske. Captain Clerkes Grabmal im Hafen St. Peter und Paul [Captain Clerkes’ Tomb in Petropavlovsk].
[Saint Petersburg: Morskaya Typ., 1813]. Copper engraving ca. 34x52 cm (13 ½ x 20 ½ in). Copper engraved title in Russian and German on the lower margin. A couple of minor repaired tears on the extremities, a minor water stain on the lower margin, but overall a very good strong impression of this copper engraving.
Plate XXVIII from the famous Russian edition of the atlas to Adam von Krusenstern’s circumnavigation in 1803-1806 (Atlas k Puteshestviiu Kapitana Krusensterna. SPb, 1813). Published on the funds of the Russian Imperial Cabinet, the atlas became one of the most luxurious Russian editions of the early 19th century. The complete atlas (with 118 engraved views and scenes, according to the Russian State Library) is a great rarity, with only one copy found in Worldcat (National Maritime Museum in Greenwich), but separate engravings are also very rare.
Our engraving depicts the tomb of Charles Clerke (1741-1779), who took part in all three circumnavigations of James Cook. After Cook’s death in Hawaii in February 1779, Clerke took command of the third expedition and continued looking for the Northwest Passage in the Bering Strait, but died from tuberculosis near Kamchatka just a few months later, in August 1779. He was buried in Petropavlovsk next to the grave of Louis Delisle de la Croyère (ca. 1685-1741) – a member of Vitus Bering’s Great Northern Expedition, who died of scurvy in 1741 on the way back from Alaska. During their stay in Petropavlovsk in September 1805, the members of Krusenstern’s expedition renewed the tombs and built a wooden pyramid with commemorative boards above both graves. The plate shows two Russian officers in naval uniform and bicorne hats, standing next to a wooden monument and a large tree; the engraving also features several log houses and a group of Kamchadals; a glimpse of the Avacha Bay is seen in the far right. Krusenstern’s account of the expedition contains a detailed description of the erection of the monument (see: Voyage Round the World in the Years 1803, 1804, 1805 & 1806… on board the ships Nadezhda and Neva under the command of Captain A.J. von Krusenstern… Vol. 1. London, 1813, pp. 202-205).
The engraving was made from the drawing from life by Wilhelm Gottlieb Tilesius von Tilenau (1769-1857), a German naturalist and artist who participated in Krusenstern’s expedition. The engraver, Andrey Ukhtomsky, was a prominent Russian artist, a member of the Russian Academy of Arts (1808), the head of the printing house of the Academy, and the curator of the Academy’s library. Charles Clerke is notable for being the author of the first account of Captain Cook’s death. His letter to the Admiralty mentioning Cook’s murder on Hawaii was written in Kamchatka on June 8, 1779, and was first published as a pamphlet in Reval in 1780 (Hawaiian National Bibliography 18).
Overall a beautiful copper engraved illustration of Krusenstern’s circumnavigation, which reveals the close connection between the first explorers of the North Pacific.