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James Cook

(1728-1779), Circumnavigator

Mid-Georgian Portraits Catalogue Entry

Sitter associated with 15 portraits
The son of a Yorkshire labourer, Captain Cook honed his navigation skills on small trading boats sailing from Whitby. Described as 'a good mathematician and very expert in his business', he was chosen to command the Royal Navy ship the Endeavour in 1768, despite being a lower-ranking officer. This was the first of three important voyages of discovery to the Pacific - charting land, sea and stars. He is most famous for charting the coasts of New Zealand, the Pacific coast of North America and the east coast of Australia, where he was the first British captain to land. On his third voyage to the Pacific, from 1776 to 1779, he was killed in an attack by Hawaiian natives who had previously worshipped him as a god.

Watch a film clip on the sitter from the BBC Archive in the Media section below

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