Endeavour botanical illustrations
January 4, 2004 3:44 PM   Subscribe

The moon landing of its day. Between 1768 and 1771, Captain James Cook and his ship, HMS Endeavour, circumnavigated the globe on the first exclusively scientific voyage. This site presents most of the botanical drawings and engravings prepared by artist Sydney Parkinson before his untimely death at sea, and by other artists back in England working from Parkinson's initial sketches.
posted by thatwhichfalls (9 comments total)
James Cook and botanical drawings are two of my interests - how could I not post it?
posted by thatwhichfalls at 3:50 PM on January 4, 2004

Great link, thatwhichfalls - thanks. But you do realize, as a proud Portuguese, I have to take issue with your "The moon landing of its day" title. When James Cook set out the appropriate world maps had long been drawn by the Portuguese and (much later) Spanish navigators and all he had to do was follow their much-travelled directions. Fernão Magalhães or Magellan (though he died before completing the journey, finalized by Sebastian del Cano) was the first to circumnavigate the world. They arrived back at their point of departure in 1522. This, you'll agree, is quite a bit before 1771. Time enough for maps to be made, at the very least.

Before him, Diogo Cão, Gil Eanes, Columbus, Vasco da Gama, Cabral and dozens of others intrepid navigators and explorers were even more worthy of comparison with the moon landing.

They were the ones that went out into the unknown. Cook went out into the well-known.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 3:59 PM on January 4, 2004

The first truly global botanical index, btw, was also completed in the 16th Century, by the brilliant and persecuted Portuguese Jew Garcia de Orta. Apologies for the touchiness! :)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:05 PM on January 4, 2004

They were the ones that went out into the unknown. Cook went out into the well-known.

But it was Captain Francis Drake that made it profitable.
posted by SPrintF at 4:22 PM on January 4, 2004

You make a good point MiguelCardoso, and I would agree that the explorers you mention were in many cases the first to go to these places. I did say, however, that this was the first exclusively scientific voyage - not a voyage to find new lands but one to find out what was in these places.
I know what you mean though, about the Iberian explorers you mentioned - their courage in going into the unknown was, for their times, astonishing. I often think that there's a novel to be written in the alternative universe where the Chinese fleet is not destroyed in 1479 on the orders of the emperor and Portugese explorers meet the Chinese somewhere on the coast of what is now Namibia. They would have had so much information to share!
posted by thatwhichfalls at 4:25 PM on January 4, 2004

"Moon landing of its day" and "Cook went out into the well-known" are both overstating the case. The Southern Ocean was mostly unknown before Cook's second voyage. He just missed discovering Antarctica, but at least proved the nonexistence of Terra Australis Incognita.

I highly recommend Below the Convergence: Voyages Toward Antarctica, 1699-1839 by Alan Gurney for exploration history buffs. Great book.
posted by Daze at 5:26 PM on January 4, 2004

Below the Convergence

an extraordinarily good book - I first read it working on a rig off the north coast of the Nederlands. We were flying out of Den Helder and everyone there seemed to know the stories I mentioned. Took me a while to figure out why ...
posted by thatwhichfalls at 9:21 PM on January 4, 2004

[this is good]
posted by plep at 11:46 AM on January 5, 2004

And I highly recommend Tony Horwitz' Blue Latitudes, in which the author journeys in the footsteps of Cook in order to better understand the man and the effects of his voyages.
posted by Songdog at 7:54 AM on January 6, 2004

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