William Hodges, The Resolution in a stream of pack-ice

William Hodges (1744-1797) was the official artist on Cook's Second Voyage. His scenes of Pacific islands and peoples, with dramatic contrasts of light and colour, remain key images of this remarkable period of exploration. This is a small sketch made by Hodges during one of the two sweeps towards the South Pole 1772-73. It depicts the Resolution in a choppy sea under overcast skies with streams of pack ice floating past.

Surviving sketches by Hodges are extremely rare.

The Voyage marked the first crossing of the Antarctic Circle. The ship came nearly within sight of the Continent itself, further south than anyone had sailed before. The sketch is testimony to European efforts to find an unknown southern continent, to the dangers of voyaging among the ice floes and the hardships endured by the crew in freezing conditions.

J.R. Forster complained his bedding was always damp from a leaking hatch, and the goat brought down from the deck to the next door cabin bleated piteously all night. Cook wrote at the most southern point - 'I whose ambition leads me not only farther than any other man has been before me, but as far as I think it possible for man to go'.

Acquired 2006 with the help of the Garfield Weston Foundation, the MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund, The Art Fund, the Normanby Trust, and the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust.