Captain James Cook
The Second Voyage 1772 - 1775
A series of marine paintings by Robin Brooks
Painting of Cook leaving Plymouth, J.R.Forster, a historic connection, and a trip to Rame Head.
© Robin Brooks 2007
Farewell Old England
July 13th 1772
Captain Cook's Resolution and Adventure
Oil on canvas 24" x 36" (61 cm x 91.5 cm)
E Stacey Marks and thus to a private collector.
"You've pulled off that rare feat in marine art, in being able to render the ships properly in a sea way. It is one thing to get the technical aspect right, the rigging and sails etc, but quite another to give the ship the right 'feel' as they make their way across the surface of the sea. You pulled it off very well indeed I thought with Farewell Old England."- Bruce Stannard, Sydney NSW. Nov 1st 1995
This painting shows Captain Cook's Resolution hove to off Rame Head, Plymouth at approximately 8.00 am on 13th July 1772. The artist suggests the calm serenity of a beautiful summer morning, which is contrasted by the visible activity onboard the Resolution, the shouted orders of the Officers and the calm discipline of the men.
The evocative title is taken from the private log of Lieutenant Richard Pickersgill of the Resolution. Pickersgill was already an experienced global traveller, having sailed on the Dolphin, with Captain Samuel Wallis in 1766-68 and on the Endeavour as Master with James Cook in 1768-71.
He gives us the appropriate touch of sentiment with the words, 'Farewell Old England', writtend large and surrounded by a scribbled border. He was described as a good officer and astronomer, but 'liking ye Grog'!
Final calls of 'Farewell' across the water, not only to the people in the boat in the foreground, but also to England, for although nobody could know it, it would be three years and eight days before Resolution's safe return.
To the left, under the Resolution's bowsprit, is Rame Head, rising to 334 ft (102 m), on the top of whose conical shape perches St Michael's Chapel, which was built in the 11th century. As well as a place of worship, it has been a hermitage and a watch house. Further to the left, Whitsand Bay and the Cornish coast. In the centre and beyond the Resolution's hull and stern, is Penlee Point and the entrance to Plymouth Sound and astern of the Resolution, the Adventure commanded by Tobias Furneaux. To the right, half hidden under the early morning haze, the coast of Devonshire.
J.R. and G. Forster at Tahiti
By John Francis Rigaud,
Original in possession of Peter Rheinberger, Vaduz, Liechtenstein.
Johann Reinhold Forster wrote on 13th July 1772,
'We weighed anchor and left Plymouth Sound, in company with Adventure, and at 4 o'clock in the morning... When we had just left Plymouth Sound, Dr Irwin and his friend, Mr Jones, followed us in a small boat. They were making a little tour into Cornwall as far as Fowey and St Austell and were going to the first place by sea and wanted to take leave of us: they came on board of our ship and after having breakfasted with us, they took leave of us and stood for the shore and we directed our course into the Channel under a N.W. by W. wind. At 8 o'clock the Ramshead bore North, distant 2 miles. At 12 o'clock at noon the Latitude was observed 50° 7'N. the Ramshead bore N.E. ¾ E. distant 7 leagues. We passed Eddystone lighthouse, it was about 2 leagues to leeward."
Extract from the Resolution Journal of Johann Reinhold Forster 1772 - 1775 Vol. 1. 13th July 1772. Published by the Hakluyt Society 1982. (Forster and his son George were the principle naturalists aboard Resolution. He was a brilliant mind, though sometimes cantankerous).
Summary of the 2nd Voyage
Voyages of Captain Cook
|The late Admiral of the Fleet, Lord Lewin of Greenwich KG, GCB, LVO, DSC was intensely interested in the voyages and life of Captain James Cook. He lectured to the Society of Nautical Research on Cook's landing places, having visited many of them personally throughout his long and distinguished Naval career. From 1988 on, he met and corresponded with Robin on the subject of Cook's voyages. Lord Lewin much admired Robin's work.|
The late Admiral of the Fleet, Lord Lewin of Greenwich
KG, GCB, LVO, DSC
Three quotes from the letters of Lord Lewin:
"I am reminded again of the attraction and accuracy of 'Farewell Old England' and I am sure it should be commended to all.'
On seeing the completed canvas 'Triumph of the Navigators' he said -
"Magnificent, many congratulations, it brings the ship to life"
Robin Brooks brings to life familiar incidents known only in the written word. I think his paintings are superb"
The following extract is taken from a letter to Robin from Commander Ian Monroe, Royal New Zealand Navy Hydrographics Surveyor, who was one of the officers onboard RNZN Lachlan. They took Dr John Cawte Beaglehole of Victoria University College, Wellington to visit several Pacific islands, in research for his world famous collection of volumes of the life and journals of Captain James Cook, published by the Hakluyt Society. (These biblical proportioned volumes have been Robin's mainstay for his series of paintings).
"I have now returned home with my print of 'Farewell Old England'. It is a tremendous thrill as I am a great admirer of Cook, having spent most of my life resurveying the waters off New Zealand and the Pacific islands. As hydrographic surveyors, we have felt very close to Cook as we tested his work a hundred and eighty years later. It was an incredible achievement, the more so when one thinks of the difficulties of holding a ship's company together for such long periods.
To a seaman, your paintings are superb in every detail, with skies and seas so true, we feel we are experiencing the emotions of the time."
Captain Alastair Letty -
"I am always amazed that Robin can depict sea and sky so accurately, when he has never been away at sea. It must be very difficult, as so many other marine artists fail to capture this natural subject correctly. They have to stylise the sea and sky to compensate for their lack of ability. What a wonderful talent to have, that enables you to see something in such detail and reality, then recreate it on canvas for posterity. Robin's ship portraits are outstanding, and I know that he takes inspiration from the late John Chancellor in technical detail of the subject. His research is meticulous and he becomes an authority of renown on any subject he researches."
Rame Head StationLatitude 50° 19.027' N Longitude 04° 13.193' W
Grid Reference SX 421487 Elevation 102 metres.
Station Manager - Peter Creber. Rame Head Station is manned by a team of trained volunteers, who keep a daylight visual watch every day of the year.
© Robin Brooks 2007
© Robin Brooks 2007
Robin is holding the Lizard to Straight Point admiralty chart that he had used to reconstruct the track of the Resolution and Adventure's movements on the 13th July 1772.
"Mary and I set off impulsively on the 26th October for her birthday day out. We had planned to go on the 27th which would have been her birthday and also Captain Cook's! The forecast for the 27th was abysmal, so we set off the day before. Although Rame Head features prominently in 'Farewell Old England', we had never actually seen it from the land side. The weather was wonderful.Robin Brooks, 2005
We visited the Rame Head Station and spoke with Dave Smith, Jim Cashmer and Jim Knott, who are part of the 50 volunteer Watch Keepers team. While we were with them, the German warship 'Koln' F211 came into view and headed for Plymouth Sound. We would recommend this as a lovely place to visit with panoramic views, wildlife and more."
"It was an exciting moment for me, when at 5.30am July 2nd 1990, I was finally able to get to sea, armed with the journals and logs of Cook's second voyage. I followed Cook's track out from Plymouth Sound as they had done. I believe the weather conditions, state of the sea and lighting were as near perfect as possible. Making notes and sketches and visualising the planned painting that I would later create, was an emotional experience that I will never forget. There was a light haze over the land, which the rising sun was burning off by the time we were off Rame Head."Robin Brooks
With special thanks to the following:
- UK Hydrographic Office (Taunton)
- Captain R. Campbell Royal Navy O.B.E.
- Lt Commander A. David, Royal Navy.
Chief Editor of the three volumes, 'The Charts and Coastal Views of Captain Cook's Voyages'.
- Eric Long - Plymouth Marine Studies
- Philip Wride - Model Shipwright
More about Captain Cook's Voyages:
- Introduction to the 'Captain James Cook' painting series
- Marine Paintings of Captain Cook's first voyage
- Summary of Captain Cook's first voyage
- Summary of Captain Cook's Second Voyage
- Marine Paintings of Captain Cook's second voyage: Leaving Plymouth
- Marine Paintings of Resolution and Adventure, and Captain Tobias Furneaux
- Marine Paintings of Cook's second voyage: Antarctic Regions, Icebergs and Penguins
- Acknowledgements to those who assisted Robin with his research
Back to the top