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Captain James Cook was not only a hero in Britain — his fame spread throughout Europe, as readers devoured accounts of his voyages translated into many languages.
The veneration of Cook transcended even France and Britain's fierce imperial rivalry. This marble bust of the celebrated navigator is associated with a cenotaph to Cook built in the garden of the Château of Méréville, a stately French home belonging to the Marquis Jean-Joseph de Laborde. Constructed in 1788, among other follies such as grottoes, caves and waterfalls, the cenotaph incorporated a bust of Cook by the acclaimed French sculptor Augustin Pajou. He depicted Cook as a classical figure, in the pantheon of European heroes, not just British ones.
It's likely this bust is a copy of the one in cenotaph, made at about the same time by one of Pajou's circle.
Right: This French marble portrait bust of Captain Jacques Cook was made in about 1788. Courtesy: Sothebys.
Cénotaphe de Cook: the cenotaph, built in the garden of the Château of Méréville, has been moved to another estate in Essonne, France.
Photos: Guilhem Sherf.
Editor William Anderson's book placed accounts of Cook's journeys alongside those of other British naval heroes such as Sir Francis Drake. Photos: George Serras.