Cat. no. 90-19

The Golden Hind, 1579

Date: Sep-90
Item Type: Painting
Support: Canvas (Cotton Or Linen)
Dimensions: 36 X 72
Agent / Institution: NAWA 1991

The Golden Hind, 1579. 36 x 72.

In 1577, Francis Drake, an adventurer, left England with 200 men and
five ships with the intention of plundering the Spanish Main, the
south Atlantic, and perhaps the Pacific. Pickings were slim. The
Spanish were alert in the Caribbean and along the eastern shores of
South America. Soon he had a mutiny and disaffection as he continued
south. Hanging one ring-leader, he sent a ship home with the other
malcontents at the Rio Plata and used two ships to repair the larger
ones. With two ships he attempted the Magellan Straits. His sister
ship missed a rendezvous and sailed for England, not eager to venture
into the Pacific. Drake in Pelican broke north along the coast of
Chile taking two other towns by surprise as he sailed faster than
horsemen could carry a warning northward. By the time he reached
Central American he had to off-load silver he was using by then for
ballast to take on gold. When he had all the weight he deemed safe to
carry he ventured westward to intercept the Manila Galleon hoping to
top off his treasure with jewels, but he failed to encounter it, and
his loitering permitted the Spaniards to alert the coast and send the
few armed vessels they had in search of him. Drake sailed north with
his hoard, hoping to find the Northwest Passage back to England. By
now it was 1579, and he visited Juan de Fuca Straits, Puget Sound,
sailed inland past Vancouver Island and examined the passages along
the coast of Canada and present Alaska until he saw that the coast was
bearing westward again and realized there was no such passage. The
one-hundred man crew was suffering from cold. He dropped south to the
coast of California north of San Francisco Bay, watered and
re-victualled. Upon killing a magnificent stag, the crew placed its
skull and antlers on the prow of their careened ship. Then they
scraped Pelican's hull and refurbished her, and re-named her Golden
Hind. The painting shows them heading west past the Farallones into
the Pacific, with England, glory and knighthood for Drake almost two
years, forty thousand miles, and the loss of the lives of almost half
the crew still ahead of them.

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