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A journal of a voyage to the South Seas, in His Majesty's Ship the ENDEAVOUR

Date: 1773
Overall: 298 × 244 × 38 mm, 1.65 kg
Medium: Ink on paper, leather bound boards, gilt
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Books and journals
Object Name: Book
Object No: 00004423
Place Manufactured:London

User Terms

    This journal was taken from some of the papers and drawings of Sydney Parkinson, the official artist on board Captain James Cook's first expedition to the Pacific in 1768-1771. Parkinson became the first European artist to produce sketches of Australian flora and fauna. During ENDEAVOUR's return passage to England he died of dysentery and his account of the voyage including some of his drawings was published by his brother.
    SignificanceThis rare book offers an insight into James Cook's first Pacific voyage of exploration and the work of Sydney Parkinson who sketched over 1,300 specimens of flora and fauna collected by Sir Joseph Banks in 1768-1771.
    HistoryJames Cook's first voyage of exploration to the Pacific was in command of HMB ENDEAVOUR in 1768-1771. The Royal Society of London petitioned King George III for an expedition to view the transit of Venus across the sun at Tahiti on 3 June 1769. The British were also interested in exploring the Pacific Ocean and its unknown islands.

    During the expedition Cook sailed to Tahiti and then on to New Zealand as charted by Abel Tasman in 1642. After mapping both the north and south islands, he started the journey home. It was during this passage that Cook first approached eastern Australia and attempted to land on 28 April 1770. Encountering rough surf Cook sailed ENDEAVOUR round to a calmer bay (Botany Bay) where on 29 April 1770 he and his crew landed on Australian soil and made some of the first drawings and collections of Australian flora and fauna.

    On board was the naturalist and patron Sir Joseph Banks and his accompaniment of eight staff including the naturalists Daniel Solander and H D Sporing, the artists Alexander Buchan and Sydney Parkinson, James Roberts, Peter Briscoe and the servants Thomas Richmond and George Dorlton.

    Banks had previously met Sydney Parkinson at the Vineyard nursery in London and was so impressed with his botanical sketches that he hired him as a draughtsman for the Royal Navy's expedition. Parkinson produced some 1,300 drawings and sketches during the voyage and recorded the vocabularies of the Tahitians and the indigenous people of New Holland (Australia).

    Working in particularly difficult conditions on board ENDEAVOUR Parkinson worked in a cramped cabin below deck. Initially he was able to keep pace with drawing all the specimens collected by Banks and the other naturalists but as the expedition went on Parkinson could only produce quick sketches of each item, labelling its colours and making plans to complete the drawing at a later stage. One factor contributing to his overstretched workload was the death of Parkinson’s colleague Alexander Buchan in 1769. His death meant Parkinson was the only artist on board to draw the specimens.

    At the conclusion of the expedition Parkinson's drawings were collected and eventually compiled into 21 large volumes by Sir Joseph Banks. Banks hired five artists to complete the unfinished watercolours and 595 new artworks were made from Parkinson's sketches. Banks also employed 18 engravers to produce cut-copper printing plates of 743 of Parkinson's artworks. The publication never eventuated and Banks' collection was transferred to the British Museum in 1827. Between 1980 and 1990 Alecto Historical Editions and the Natural History Museum, London, published the works in 35 parts.

    Sydney Parkinson was not alive to see the culmination of his works as he died of dysentery contracted at Batavia (Jakarta) during ENDEAVOUR's return passage to England on 26 January 1771.
    Additional Titles

    Assigned title: Ein Tagebuch von einer Reise zum Pazifischen Ozean auf Seiner Majestät Schiff ENDEAVOUR

    Primary title: A journal of a voyage to the South Seas, in His Majesty's Ship the ENDEAVOUR

    Assigned title: Een dagboek van een reis naar de Stille Oceaan op het schip Zijne Majesteits Schip ENDEAVOUR

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