Captain Cook's Travels

John Webber - Captain Cook's official artist

This is a Yorkshire World Collections object, one of 100 chosen by young people aged 16-24, as part of the London Cultural Olympiad programme Stories of the World.

John Webber was the official artist on Cook's third and final voyage of exploration, on which the great explorer died. The exploration set out to search for the North West Passage, a means of crossing the arctic ocean, across the Bering Strait. This was unsuccessful, but after Cook's death, other people continued with his plan to make another attempt, from the Siberian side of the Strait.

The ships visited Petropavlosk, on the coast of Kamchatka, in April 1779, to take on supplies. When they were there, a small group including Webber, set off to visit the local Governor, on dog-sledges! Crossing the peninsula, Webber made this sketch (above) of a driver of one of the dog-sledges, in heavy winter clothing. The sketch shows his careful observation of detail, and his sympathy for 'indigenous' people as individuals in their own right.

Young person's response to this object:

It is strange to see a pencil sketch from so far away, of such a different people. What would they think of the strange visitor who was sketching them?    
Katie Chester

Discussion Ideas:

  • What kind of clothes do you think people wore to keep warm in 1779 in such a remote place?
  • What do you think the word indigenous means? Can you think of other examples of indigenous people?

Activity Idea:

  • Zoom in and out of this map to Petropavlosk to work out what route Captain Cook took to get this far on his last voyage.

Document icon Learning article provided by: Captain Cook Memorial Museum | 
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