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Statue of James Cook, Sydney

Date: c 1880
Overall: 148 x 205 mm, 0.003 kg
Display Dimensions: 147 x 205 mm
Medium: Silver gelatin photographic print, paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Photograph
Object No: 00019262
Related Place:Hyde Park,

User Terms

    In 1874 Henry Parkes commissioned artist Thomas Woolner RA to execute the imposing valedictory statue of Captain James Cook for Hyde Park in Sydney. Until the construction of modern high-rise buildings, the large statue was able to be seen from the ships in Sydney Habour. It was officially unveiled in February 1879, the 100th anniversary of Cook's death.

    In the background of this photograph is the Australian Museum, an important site for the study of natural history after its opening at this location in 1857.
    SignificanceThis photograph represents the various public artworks produced to commemorate Captain James Cook following his death. It was produced during the Victorian era, a period active in the celebration of heroes and events in British culture.
    HistoryCaptain James Cook was born at Marton, North Yorkshire on 27 October 1728. By the age of 20 he was serving an apprenticeship in the port of Whitby, gaining skills in navigation and mathematics under the coal shipper John Walker. In 1755 Cook joined the Royal Navy and was made master's mate on HMS EAGLE. Soon after he was promoted to Master of the PEMBROKE and conducted survey work on the St Lawrence River in Quebec, and the coasts of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.

    In 1768 Cook was chosen by the Admiralty to conduct an expedition to the Pacific in command of HMB ENDEAVOUR, to view the transit of Venus and locate the Great South Land. He undertook two more voyages to the Pacific, the second in command of RESOLUTION and ADVENTURE with the hope of finding the Great South Land and the third in command of RESOLUTION and DISCOVERY to locate the Northwest Passage. It was during this third voyage that Cook visited Hawaii (then called the Sandwich Islands), and was killed on 14 February 1779 in an altercation with the Hawaiians.

    His extraordinary seamanship skills and discoveries along with his tragic and violent death increased public interest in Cook and generated the production of a variety of souvenir mementos and celebratory statues and memorials over the ensuing centuries.
    Additional Titles

    Primary title: Statue of James Cook and Australian museum

    Web title: Statue of James Cook, Sydney

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