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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Jasperware medallion of Captain James Cook

1779
Wedgwood and Bentley (manufacturer)

white on blue Jasper Ware in oval shaped wood and gilt frame (frame: 12.0 cm x 10.2 cm depth 2.3 cm, sight: 8.0 cm x 6.2 cm)

Josiah Wedgwood, potter and industrialist, was apprenticed to his potter brother, Thomas, at an early age. When his brother denied him a partnership in the family business, he collaborated with the prominent potter Thomas Whieldon to establish his first pottery factory, in Burslem, Staffordshire, with Thomas Bentley (1730-1780) as his business partner. In the 1770s Wedgwood and Bentley established the Etruria works near Stoke-on-Trent. Jasperware, granularly textured stoneware with white bas relief, was introduced in 1774. In later life Wedgwood was a prominent advocate of the abolition of slavery, from 1787 using his Wedgwood Jasperware as a means to publicise the cause in Britain and America. The plaque of Cook is thought to be one of a series of ‘Illustrious Moderns’ produced by Wedgwood and Bentley comprising portraits of scientists, philosophers, doctors and statesmen of the times. Many of the Jasperware reliefs were designed by John Flaxman (1755-1826), who worked for Wedgwood from 1775 to 1787, before he cemented his illustrious reputation as a sculptor and draughtsman.

Wedgwood’s plaque portrait of James Cook is based on an engraving executed by James Basire after the painting by William Hodges, the official artist on Cook’s second voyage.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased with funds provided by Robert Oatley AO 2007

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Wedgwood and Bentley

Captain James Cook RN (age 51 in 1779)

Supported by

Mr Robert Oatley AO (7 portraits supported)

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

Café and shop

On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

'The portraits of Captain Cook'

An interview with Betty Churcher

Portrait story

Betty Churcher describes the creation of the portrait of Captain James Cook in the National Portrait Gallery.

Captain Cook

'The photojournalists of their time'

Portrait story

An exploration of the role of artists such as John Webber who, whilst a member of Cook’s crew over many voyages, created paintings and drawings of the situations and people the explorers encountered.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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