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Encounter Paintings

This video slideshow considers how the artworks of William Hodges impacts on our understanding of the Pacific, and the voyages of the Resolution and Adventure.

Landing at Erromanga

In his records, William Wales, the voyage astronomer, documents that Hodges made notes on the landing at Erromanga from Cook’s own account. This interest in documenting this landing suggests that both Cook and Hodges identified the landing at Erromanga as significant, and worthy for representation as an artwork.

All of the landing paintings show moments of first encounter, but there were also other first encounters that Hodges did not illustrate for the voyage accounts. What might have influenced his choices?

Some have interpreted these paintings as giving a representation of different types of meeting that were typical on the voyages. However, George Forster, one of the scientists on the voyage, described Hodges’ depiction as ‘invented’ (Forster, vol. 2 505).

Further context for this critique is that George Forster reportedly did not get along with the rest of the crew; among the crew there were many disagreements about content for publications.

Go to the See Also section below to find links to these paintings in the National Maritime Museum’s collection.

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This video is from the free online course:

Confronting Captain Cook: Memorialisation in museums and public spaces

National Maritime Museum