Skip to main content

Ticketed entry is in place to safely manage your visit so please book ahead. Need to cancel or rejig? Email bookings@npg.gov.au

Menu

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.

View of Owhyhee in the Sandwich Islands in the south Seas (The Death of Cook), 1787-88

John Cleveley and Francis Jukes (engraver)

aquatint, hand-coloured on paper (sheet: 45.8 cm x 60.4 cm, image: 43.5 cm x 58.5 cm)

This work is a depiction of the affray which took place in Kealakekua Bay, Hawaii, on 14 February 1779, in which Cook, four marines, and seventeen Hawaiians lost their lives. Two and half years into his third voyage and having circumnavigated the largest island of Hawaii, Cook anchored his ships, Resolution and Discovery, in Kealekekua Bay in January 1779. The voyagers were welcomed, and relations between the Hawaiians and Europeans remained largely peaceful during the expedition’s stay. Shortly after departing Kealekekua, however, Cook returned to make repairs and relations then deteriorated. Things came to a head when Cook decided to force the return of a stolen ship’s cutter by taking the Hawaiian king hostage. He went ashore with ten men to bring the plan into effect; shots were fired in the confusion and a Hawaiian chief was killed. Cook and his men were attacked as they retreated to their boats; Cook shot and killed another warrior and in return was stabbed.

News of Cook’s demise reached England ahead of the return of the expedition and quickly became the subject of souvenir images. Originally it was claimed that this work was based on drawings made by James Cleveley, who was the carpenter on the Resolution. It is now believed, however, that the work is an invention devised by Cleveley’s brother, John, from other images and accounts of Cook’s death.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased with funds provided by the Liangis family 2012

Accession number: 2012.5

Currently not on display

Copyright image request form
Request a digital copy of an image for publication

Artist and subject

John Cleveley

Francis Jukes (age 41 in 1787)

Captain James Cook RN

Subject professions

Exploration and settlement

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.

Betty Churcher on Captain Cook video: 3 minutes
Betty Churcher on Captain Cook video: 3 minutes
Betty Churcher on Captain Cook video: 3 minutes
Betty Churcher on Captain Cook video: 3 minutes

'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 James Cook portrait story video: 2 minutes
Captain James Cook portrait story video: 2 minutes
Captain James Cook portrait story video: 2 minutes
Captain James Cook portrait story video: 2 minutes

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.

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

Thrown together

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2009

Shipmates for years, James Cook and Joseph Banks each kept a journal but neither man shed light on their relationship.

We would like to thank our partners.
© National Portrait Gallery 2020
King Edward Terrace, Parkes
Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

Phone +61 2 6102 7000
Fax +61 2 6102 7001
ABN: 54 74 277 1196

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.