The Collections

Death of Captain Cook

Created: 11.02.13

Captain James Cook died on Hawaii on 14 February 1779 during his third and final Pacific voyage. He had put into the islands for the winter and was at first welcomed by the inhabitants, some think as the embodiment of their god Lono. But, on leaving to continue his survey of the islands, the mast of Cook’s ship the ‘Resolution’ was damaged in a storm forcing him to return. This time he was clearly not welcome and a series of altercations ended with Cook and four of his marines being killed. The official admiralty artist on the voyage, John Webber, witnessed his death from a boat offshore and painted an emotive representation of the scene, which was engraved for the published account of the voyage. Rapidly enshrined as heroic voyages and a tragic death, Cook’s life continues to inspire artists to the present day.


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