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Captain Cook’s artists


Friday 19 October 2018
11am — 12pm

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William Hodges, Review of the war galleys at Tahiti ['The Fleet of Otaheite assembled at Oparee'] (detail), 1776.

Oil on panel. 240 mm x 465 mm. Accession no. BHC2395. National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London.

To mark the 250th anniversary of Captain James Cook’s first voyage to Pacific, Professor Geoff Quilley examines the impact of Cook’s voyages on British art and how the artists invited on the voyages shaped the West’s visualisation of the Pacific.

1768 saw both the founding of the Royal Academy of Arts in London and also the departure of Captain Cook on the first of his three voyages into the Pacific Ocean. Cook’s voyages are not generally seen as part of art history, but they were hugely significant. They were the first voyages of exploration to take artists as part of a dedicated team of observers. They also produced the first extensive visual record of the Pacific Ocean, its peoples and natural environment, which were largely unknown to the west.

In this talk, Geoff Quilley will look at the different responses of the artists on all three voyages, including William Hodges RA, John Webber and Sydney Parkinson, along with their encounter with this startlingly new environment, and how they inaugurated an enduring image of an idyllic Pacific world.

Geoff Quilley is Professor of Art History at the University of Sussex, and specialises in British art in relation to empire, colonialism and maritime travel, on which he has published widely. He was previously Curator of Fine Art at the National Maritime Museum, London, where he curated the exhibitions William Hodges 1744-1797: the Art of Exploration (2004) and Art for the Nation: the Oil Paintings Collections of the National Maritime Museum (2006). His monograph Empire to Nation: Art, History and the Visualization of Maritime Britain, 1768-1829, was published by Yale University Press in 2011, and he is currently completing a book on British art and the East India Company.

● Fully booked

● Cancelled

Friday 19 October 2018

11am — 12pm

The Benjamin West Lecture Theatre, Burlington Gardens, Royal Academy of Arts

£10, £6 concessions