Parkinson, Sydney (c.1745-1771)
A journal of a voyage to the South Seas, in His Majesty’s ship the Endeavour.
Faithfully transcribed from the papers of the late Sydney Parkinson, draughtsman to Joseph Banks, Esq. on his late Expedition with Dr. Solander, round the world. Embellished with views and designs, delineated by the author, and engraved by capital artists. London : printed for Stanfield Parkinson, the editor, 1773. Quarto, contemporary full calf, recased with modern spine, tastefully bound to style, a tall copy 358 mm high, engraved frontispiece, pp xxiii, 212, [2, errata], wide margins, 27 copper engraved plates (offsetting as usual), engraved map of New Zealand, a couple of worm holes to margins and ink marks to preliminaries, a fine copy.
The unofficial account of Cook’s first voyage.
The gifted natural history artist Sydney Parkinson was invited by Sir Joseph Banks to serve as botanical draughtsman on Cook’s voyage to the South Seas in the Endeavour, 1768-1771. The main objectives of the expedition were to observe the Transit of Venus (successfully accomplished in Tahiti in June, 1769) and to confirm the existence of Terra Australis Incognita. Following the death of the topographical draughtsman, Alexander Buchan, in Tahiti, Parkinson assumed the role of the expedition’s principal artist. Parkinson produced over 1300 drawings and sketches on the voyage, before succumbing to dysentery at Batavia. He died at sea in late January, 1771. On returning to England, Parkinson’s drawings and papers were acquired by Banks from Parkinson’s brother, Stanfield, for a sum of £500. Banks was generous enough to lend the papers and a number of drawings to Stanfield Parkinson, who secretly prepared them for his unauthorised publication, A Journal of a Voyage to the South Seas, without the consent of Banks. The book became the subject of a legal injunction, and was prevented from being published until after Hawkesworth’s official account had appeared in print, in 1773. A Journal of a Voyage to the South Seas was finally published later in the same year, and an enlarged edition appeared in 1784. Although Parkinson’s notes and a selection of his drawings were used by Hawkesworth in compiling the official account, Hawkesworth purposely failed to acknowledge any of Parkinson’s work. Parkinson was the first European artist to make drawings of the indigenous peoples of New Zealand and Australia from direct observation. A journal of a voyage to the South Seas contains his depictions of Māori and of Aborigines opposing Cook’s landing at Botany Bay, and the book made these important images available to a European audience for the first time. In a very real sense it is a foundation work in Polynesian and Australian ethnography.