The Kongouro from New Holland, © National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Captain James Cook, 1728-1779, was an explorer and navigator and a Captain in the Royal Navy. He was the first known European to land in
Hawaii and on the East coast of Australia.
It wasn’t only sailors who took to the waves with Captain Cook. In the 18th century, scientists, astronomers and artists were keen to be the first to discover strange and interesting creatures in faraway lands.
George Stubbs had never seen a real kangaroo when he painted this. All he had were the descriptions and basic sketches which were brought back from voyages. This painting would have been the first time the British public had laid eyes on a kangaroo. He also painted a wild Australian dog called a dingo.
Things to think about:
- Would you like to have been an explorer?
- How do you think the travellers felt seeing these animals for the first time?
- Which wild animal would you have liked to discover?
The discovery of new species and new lands was a huge part of the 18th
Century. This painting of a Kangaroo 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.
- ‘Kangaroo’ and another of Stubbs’ paintings ‘Dingo’ 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 Kangaroo but worked from descriptions and a small group of pencil drawings and a stuffed pelt (now lost) that were brought back to Britain. The paintings were the first time that the British public had seen these amazing Australian animals.
- Captain James Cook, 1728-1779, was an explorer and navigator and a Captain in the Royal Navy. He was the first known European to land in Hawaii and on the East coast of Australia.