William Hodges

British, 1744–1797

The Resolution and Adventure, 4 January 1773, taking ice for water, latitude 61 degrees South
Ink and wash on paper; 14 x 22 in. (35.6 x 55.9 cm)
Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales

Captain James Cook invited the artist William Hodges to join his second voyage of discovery in search of Antarctica in 1772. This expedition, the first to cross the Antarctic Circle, brought back more images related to the anthropology, geography, botany, and zoology of Oceania than all prior navigations combined.

In one of the first depictions of an iceberg drawn from nature, Hodges breathed new life into the rigid lines of the topographic landscape tradition. Exploiting the fluidity of the watercolor medium, he interprets the movement of Antarctic light and captures nature’s mood: the calm before a storm and the perfect weather to perform tasks essential for survival. Cook described the artist’s subject in his journal:

[They] hoisted out three boats; and in about five or six hours, took up as much ice as yielded fifteen tons of good fresh water… and the water which the ice yielded was perfectly sweet and well-tasted… the most expeditious way of watering I ever met.