Skip to main content

Captain James Cook, engraving after John Webber
, 1784

by Francesco Bartolozzi

engraving (frame: 16.3 cm x 14.2 cm depth 2.3 cm, sight: 12.4 cm x 10.4 cm)

James Cook (1728–1779), maritime explorer, surveyed and claimed the east coast of Australia on the first of his three great voyages of discovery in the Pacific. Almost continually at sea between 1768 and 1779, Cook opened up vast areas that had previously been only tentatively investigated, and charted them with extraordinary accuracy. Accounts produced from his voyages provided Europeans with their first glimpse of the culture, wildlife and geography of lands as diverse as Tahiti and Alaska, and as a result of measures he took to raise standards of hygiene and nutrition on board his ships, there was an appreciable improvement in the health of future British seamen. Cook was killed in an affray with indigenous Hawaiians at Kealakekua Bay, Hawaii, on 14 February 1779, after having departed and then returned to make essential repairs.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased with funds provided by Robert Oatley AO 2007
Accession number: 2007.31.1