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Royal Society's Missing Cook


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Royal Society's Missing Cook (continued)

Extracts from minute books:

December 2nd 1859. "The Treasurer mentioned that Mr. Gilfillan had with great liberality offered to the Institute his picture of Captain Cook declaring New South Wales a dependency of the British Crown merely with the proviso that the Institute should have it suitably framed. Mr. Rawlinson moved that Mr. Gilfillan's offer be accepted and that the thanks of the Council be awarded to him for his valuable donation, and that a sum not exceeding £20 be reserved for the purchase of a suitable frame." [The frame eventually cost £30.]

December 21st 1859. "Dr. Iffla moved that in consideration of the valuable donation of Mr. Gilfillan, he be elected a Life Member of the Institute. This was carried unanimously.' [The Philosophical Institute of Victoria assumed the title 'The Royal Society of Victoria' by Royal Assent dated 8th November 1859 and received in Melbourne 23rd January 1860.]

March 7th 1864. "The Honorary Secretary [Dr. Ferdinand Mueller] rose to record the lamented death of J. Gilfillan, Esq., a Member of the Society. distinguished by his great talents as an artist and appreciated by the Society as the generous donor of a magnificent oil painting, a master work of his own hands. The Chairman [The Hon. Dr. J. Macadam] spoke likewise in eulogistic terms of the late gentleman, who as Professor of painting in the Andersonian University of Glasgow had once been his teacher."

June 26th. 1865. "An application from Mr. Geo. C. Levey for permission to copy Mr. Gilfillan's picture "Capt. Cook..." was granted and the Hon. Secretary authorised to incur such reasonable charges to protect the picture, the property of the Society, from injury as the case may require."

March 3rd 1869. "The Hon. Secretary reported having obtained leave from the Trustees of the Public Library to send to that Institution for exhibition in the National Gallery of Art the Royal Society's picture by Gilfillan of Captain Cook's landing."

August 3rd 1869. "The President reported that a request had been received from the Secretary of the Mechanics' Institute, for the loan of the Royal Society's picture by Gilfillan of Capt. Cook's landing for the forthcoming exhibition at Ballarat. He had authorised the Hon. Secretary to accept the offer of the Ballarat Mechanical Institute to guarantee to insure the picture for £300 and to return it after the exhibition."

November 15th 1923. Letter received stating that the Gilfillan painting had been lent to the Trustees of the National Gallery in June 1893. A painting by E. Phillips Fox (1846-1915) "Landing of Captain Cook at Botany Bay, 1770" was now exhibited in the Gallery, and the Gilfillan painting was in storage.

December 13th 1923. The National Gallery Trustees considered that the Gilfillan painting, "whilst of some historic value, was of no particular intrinsic value". It was proposed to place it on view in a Historical section now being arranged, labelled "on loan from the Society".

May 12th 1932. Gilfillan painting not on exhibition in the Gallery. Agreed to ask for its return.

June 13th 1935. The painting by Gilfillan was in need of attention. A letter written some years before by the late Mr. Bernard Hall, Director of the Gallery, had recommended renovation.

March 6th 1947. Chief Librarian, Public Library, requested loan of Gilfillan painting for a special exhibition.

There has been no further mention of the painting.

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