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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.

Captain James King, engraving after Webber, 1784

Francesco Bartolozzi

engraving on paper (frame: 16.2 cm x 14.2 cm depth 2.3 cm, sight: 12.4 cm x 10.4 cm)

James King (c. 1750–1784), naval officer, was born in Lancashire and educated at Clitheroe Grammar School before entering the navy in 1762. After serving in Newfoundland under Commodore Hugh Palliser, a friend and patron of Cook’s, he was promoted to lieutenant in 1771 and later undertook scientific study in Paris. Recommended for Cook’s third voyage, he shared duties of astronomer with Cook, contributing much to the various surveys that were completed. After Cook was killed and Charles Clerke, who had transferred from the Discovery to command the Resolution, died of tuberculosis, King commanded the Discovery on the voyage home. It was King who completed the account of the third voyage, working at Woodstock, near Oxford. In 1782, he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society for his astronomical observations. After more time at sea in the Channel and the West Indies, he saw the publication of the three volumes of the voyage before dying of tuberculosis in Nice at the age of 34.

Francescos Bartolozzi’s engravings of captains James Cook and James King, the only such images ever issued by the artist, were based on paintings by the voyage artist John Webber. Earlier in 1784, Webber had collaborated with Bartolozzi to execute a print of his famous depiction of the death of Cook.

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

Accession number: 2007.31.2

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Francesco Bartolozzi (age 57 in 1784)

Captain James King (age 34 in 1784)

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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.

Portrait of Captain James Cook RN, 1782 John Webber
Portrait of Captain James Cook RN, 1782 John Webber
Portrait of Captain James Cook RN, 1782 John Webber
Portrait of Captain James Cook RN, 1782 John Webber

Cook in context

Magazine article by Diana Warnes, 2007

Robert Oatley's continuing benefaction has helped the National Portrait Gallery acquire works that add another layer to the story of Captain Cook.

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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.