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Alaskan Drawing, 1778

 

The Alaska State Museum in Juneau has bought a drawing, by William Ellis, of part of the Alaska coastline.

The drawing depicts the Shumagin Islands off the coast of the Alaska Peninsula. It measures 6 and-a-half inches by 20 inches. It was purchased through a Juneau art dealer from a London bookseller for $7,150.

William Ellis was a surgeon's mate on Cook's third voyage. He published a two-volume version of the Cook expedition in 1782, against the orders of the Admiralty. Although it contained engravings made from his own drawings, the Shumagin Islands drawing is not amongst them.

This drawing becomes the only example of original material from Cook's voyage in a public collection in Alaska, and the earliest depiction of an Alaskan scene by a European artist currently in an Alaskan collection.

Ralph Swap

Originally published in Cook's Log, page 481, volume 9, number 4 (1986).

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