Depictions of Captain James Cook
Only a small number of portraits of Cook were drawn from life. All other images of Cook were based on these and on the imaginings of generations of artists and engravers. The Cook we recognise is something of a stereotype, created by a market hungry for images of the great man.
Cook's portrait by artist William Hodges is one of these few portraits painted by someone who knew him well. As a result, it is felt to be a true likeness of Cook.
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This engraving has its origins in the pantomime, Omai: Or a Trip round the World, first performed in 1785, and based on Cook's Pacific voyages. At the end of the production, 'Cook' was wafted heavenwards by Fame and Britannia, as shown here. The image of Cook echoes Hodges' portrait, and the 'view of Karakakooa Bay' in Hawai'i is based on a drawing by John Webber, the official voyage artist. Courtesy: National Library of Australia, nla.pic-an7678295-1.