When Capt. James Cook sailed from England on his second voyage of
discovery in 1772, he was accompanied not by the gentleman-naturalist-cum-artist Joseph Banks, but by a different sort of painter. The son of a blacksmith, William Hodges was a landscape painter, and he journeyed with Cook throughout the Southern Ocean for three years as the team mapped the coastline of Antarctica.
Visitors to the Greenwich, England, National Maritime Museum can view a display of Hodges’ paintings, the most significant of which is an oil painting of icebergs off the Antarctic coast. The painting, which was revealed by X-ray scanning, was later painted over by Hodges, and is believed to be the first landscape rendering of the Antarctic continent. Visitors to the museum view an X-ray photograph of the Antarctic scene, since curators did not want to destroy the top painting, which shows a landscape of Pickersgill Harbour in New Zealand.
Though well known during his life, Hodges’ work was neglected after his death in 1797. This is the first public exhibit of his work since 1795. The exhibit includes 80 canvases, many of which are from the Cook voyage.