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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.

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View of Owhyhee in the Sandwich Islands in the south Seas (The Death of Cook)

1787-1788
Francis Jukes (engraver) after John Cleveley

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.

Purchased with funds provided by the Liangis family 2012

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

John Cleveley

Francis Jukes (age 41 in 1787)

Captain James Cook RN

Supported by

Mrs Sortiria Liangis AM (12 portraits supported)

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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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