This is a painting by the British painter Nathaniel Dance-Holland (1735 – 1811). An artist who ended his days practicing as a politician and reaching aristocratic rank, since he was named "sir". But before that he had become a highly regarded painter at court. Highly valued especially for the portraits of him.
Portrait of James Cook
A painter very much in neoclassical taste, who did not lack his formative years in Italy, where he learned about classical art and He made numerous paintings with historical and mythological themes, as did a painter with whom he established contact there, we refer to Angelica Kauffmann, author of works like this one that we already told you about in another time.
However, when Nathaniel Dance-Holland returned to the British Isles he exploited his talent for portraiture, even painting King George III himself and his wife. But he also painted other great men of his time. And among them thenavigator James Cook, of whom he painted this portrait around 1775, during one of his brief stays on land after the various expeditions he carried out.
His travels took him around the world and navigate all the seas and oceans, especially thePacific. There he was the first to map territories such asNew Zealandor part of the Australian coast. He likewise he sailed byTahiti, the Philippines, Easter Island… He was also the first European to set foot on the archipelago ofHawaii, although it would be precisely there where he died in 1779 after a fight with the local population.
However, his legacy as a discoverer and cartographer was more than relevant. And furthermore, during his expeditions, important geographical, astronomical, botanical and measurement advances were made, including the importance of food to reduce the dangers of scurvy among sailors.
In short, it is the portrait of one of the great navigators of history, whose name is remembered today in archipelagos, cities or mountains, such as Mount Cook, the highest peak in New Zealand. In addition to that there is also a crater named after him on the Moon. For all these reasons, there can be no better place to store this painting by the painter Nathaniel Dance-Holland than the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, located on the outskirts of London. And where he was even assigned after several of his trips around the world. However, the sailor James Cook did not want to be stranded on land, and possibly after this portrait was finished he embarked on one last voyage, from which he never returned.