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David Attenborough pays tribute to painter

First ever major retrospective exhibition of Captain Cook era painter – Sir David Attenborough pays tribute

An international premiere of works by landscape painter, William Hodges, whose career as an artist took him to New Zealand, will be opened in London next month by Sir David Attenborough.

William Hodges 1744–1797: The art of exploration runs from July 6 to November 21 in the Queen's House, at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, and London.

The exhibition includes a superb portrait of Cook, whom Hodges accompanied on his second voyage (1772–75) aboard The Resolution. Views of Pickersgill Harbour, Cascade Cove and a previously unknown stunning small oil panel of Dusky Sound also feature.

Hodges' association with Cook is a key theme of the exhibition and illustrates his links with the history of global maritime exploration.

The subjects of his paintings of New Zealand and the Pacific Islands were a revelation at the time for audiences in a Europe with no knowledge of the fascinating and unfamiliar scenes and cultures.

William Hodges was also the first professional landscape painter to visit India. He was a central figure in disseminating visual knowledge of the world in the greatest era of European geographical discovery the world has ever seen.

Sir David Attenborough said the exhibition ``will demonstrate that William Hodges has, until now, been the most unjustly neglected British painter of the 18th century’’. Sir David Attenborough will on July 14 open an international conference at the National Maritime Museum to complement the exhibition.

Roy Clare, director of the National Maritime Museum, said Sir David Attenborough’s engagement in the exhibition and conference was of `great significance’.

The conference, called The Art of Exploration, will be addressed by leading historians of art and science and focus on the art of exploration after Cook, looking at the figures who interpreted new lands and peoples for an eager European public.

The Hodges’ exhibition of 56 key oil paintings will enable his work and association with Captain Cook to be seen and analysed in a completely new context.

Many works have not been on display since Hodges' lifetime and this will be the first major exhibition covering his entire career, and showing the Cook and Indian works together for the first time.

Despite exhibiting at the Royal Academy and being elected a member in 1787, Hodges died bankrupt in 1797.

Copyright 2004 Word of Mouth Media NZ

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