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Captain James Cook

Date: 1784
Overall: 560 x 500 mm
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Engraving
Object No: 00005545
Place Manufactured:London

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    An engraving of Captain James Cook by John Keyse Sherwin after a 1775 painting by Nathaniel Dance. This well-known portrait depicts Captain Cook wearing his full Captain's dress uniform and looking up from a chart of the Southern oceans. The original portrait by Dance was commissioned by Sir Joseph Banks and copies such as this one were published after Cook's death in Hawaii.
    SignificanceWhilst there are a number of depictions of James Cook, it was noted that this engraving by James Sherwin, based on the portrait by Nathaniel Dance, showed "a most exact likeness".
    HistoryThis engraving by John Keyse Sherwin was based on a commissioned portrait of Captain James Cook by Nathaniel Dance. Sir Joseph Banks, who had accompanied Cook on his first voyage, remained a strong supporter of Cook and hung the original painted portrait in his house in London.
    Significantly in this image, painted just prior to Cook's departure on his third voyage, the area on the chart Cook points to is the east coast of Australia. While all the cues are shown for Cooks history and life (his chart, uniform, ocean, ledger etc.) this engraving was noted as showing a great physical likeness also.
    It was recorded that Cook sat for this portrait 'for a few hours before dinner on 25 May 1776, but it is not known whether he did so again before he left London on 24 June for his third voyage, never to return."
    The witness to the accuracy of this engraving by Sherwin was David Samwell. Samwell had been the surgeon aboard the RESOLUTION on Cook's final voyage and was a witness to Cook's death. Of this engraving Samwell said "it is a most excellent likeness of Captain Cook; and more to be valued, at is the only one I have seen that bears any resemblance to him."

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