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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.

Cook, n.d.

Antoine Maurin and an unknown artist (engraver)

engraving, hand-coloured on paper (sheet: 25.5 cm x 17.6 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. Cook's father was a labourer and he attended the village school before gaining a job in a shop. In 1747 he took up an apprenticeship with a coal-shipper in Whitby. Through application to his studies, particularly of mathematics, he prospered, and saw action around the Gulf of St Lawrence, where he developed his extraordinary expertise in surveying and mapping. In mid-1768 he was chosen by the Admiralty to observe the transit of Venus in Tahiti. Henceforth, he was almost continually at sea until his death in early 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 at Kealakekua Bay, Hawaii, on 14 February 1779, after having left and then returned to make essential repairs.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Ted and Gina Gregg 2012

Accession number: 2012.60

Currently not on display

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Subject professions

Exploration and settlement

Donated by

Loretta Pash (40 portraits)

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.
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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.