Portrait of a Large Dog, © National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
This painting of a Dingo, a wild dog from Australia, was painted by George Stubbs. The only thing is, Stubbs had never seen a Dingo. He based his painting on descriptions of Australian animals from the sailors and scientists who travelled with Captain Cook to Australia in the 18th Century.
Captain James Cook, 1728-1779, was an explorer and navigator and a Captain in the Royal Navy. His ‘discoveries’ of Hawaii and South East Australia dramatically changed what people in the 18th century thought the world looked like.
As well as bringing home knowledge of new lands, Captain Cook brought home knowledge of new species of plants and animals that had never before been seen by Europeans.
Things to think about:
- Captain Cook is often credited with 'discovering' Hawaii and other Pacific Islands. there were however already people living on these islands when he arrived. Who do you think really 'discovered' the islands?
- Europeans had never seen a Dingo before this painting. How would you describe this creature to somebody?
- Can you have a go a drawing your own strange creature?
The discovery of new species and new lands was a huge part of the 18th Century. This painting of a Dingo can feed into discussions of Captain Cooks voyages, the development of Science and Botany in the 18th Century, and the politics of land ownership following 'discovery'
Royal Museums Greenwich have a number of learning resources linked to exploring. Here are a few of our favourites:
Also you can see a clear map of Cook's voyages with this pdf from Activity Village.
This film from the National Film and Sound Archive offers an insight into the colonisation of Australia and the tensions between British and Australian interests.
These Yorkshire World Collections object's were connected to Cook's travels. they were chosen by young people as part of the London Cultural Olympiad programme Stories of the World.
- 'Dingo' and another of Stubbs’ paintings ‘Kangaroo’ were painted based on reports of Australian animals from Captain Cooks voyages there. Cook’s ships carried astronomers, artists, and scientists as well as seamen who collected, sketched, painted, measured and recorded what they saw. Stubbs had never seen a Dingo but worked from descriptions of people who had. The paintings were the first time that the British public had seen these amazing Australian animals.
- This painting of a Dingo, a wild dog from Australia, was painted by George Stubbs. The only thing is, Stubbs had never seen a Dingo. He based his painting on descriptions of Australian animals from the sailors and scientists who travelled with Captain Cook to Australia in the 18th Century.