Art Fund grant for rare drawing recording Captain Cook's icy voyage

  • 28 February 2007

A rare drawing, The Resolution in a stream of pack-ice (1772-3), by William Hodges, R.A, the official artist on Captain James Cook's Second Voyage, has been bought at auction by the Captain Cook Memorial Museum in Whitby, with The Art Fund's help.

The drawing was purchased for £80,275 with a £14,875 grant from The Art Fund and additional funding from the MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund; the Garfield Weston Foundation; The Normanby Trust and the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust.

One aim of Cook’s Second Voyage (1772-75) was to confirm the existence of a Great Southern Continent, now known as Antarctica. The paintings produced by William Hodges (1744-97) during and after this voyage form one of the most outstanding bodies of artistic work relating to the great voyages of exploration of the18th century. This previously unrecorded sketch by Hodges of Cook’s ship, the Resolution, was made in 1772-3, when Cook journeyed towards the South Pole, accompanied by the Adventure.

The sketch depicts the Resolution under reduced sail in a choppy sea under overcast skies with streams of pack ice floating past. Very few visual records remain of this very hazardous voyage that took Cook almost within sight of the Antarctic landmass.

Sir David Attenborough, the naturalist and an expert on the work of William Hodges, said that “This fresh, striking watercolour is a remarkable survival, and shows the artist at the height of his powers. It exudes the chill of the Antarctic air and captures the low, raking light of the far southern hemisphere beautifully. These sections of Cook’s second voyage were both dramatic and extremely hazardous, and there are very few visual records illustrating the perils and horrifying beauty of the Antarctic icebergs as seen by Cook and his crew. It’s wonderful that the Museum has been able to acquire this work with the help of The Art Fund; it will help to bring Cook’s Second Voyage to life for visitors.”

The painting will be on display from 1st March at the Captain Cook Memorial Museum.

Related Links:

Captain Cook Memorial Museum