Earliest European view of Everest found in Kew Archives
A sketch by former Kew Director Joseph Hooker, found in Kew's archives, is thought to be one of the first recorded views of Mount Everest by a European.
24 Feb 2011
Sketch of Everest by Joseph Hooker, c.1848 (Image: Peter Donaldson/RBG Kew)
The sketch (above) by Sir Joseph Hooker (Director of Kew between 1865 and 1885) was drawn in situ in around 1848. It is currently on display in The Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art until 1 June 2011.
Despite being part of the Kew collection for many years, it was only identified at the end of last year and is a hugely exciting find. It was discovered by a documentary maker who was using the Kew archives to conduct research on Sir Joseph Hooker.
According to current research, there are indications that suggest this illustration is the earliest representation of Mount Everest by a European. Whilst it is possible that earlier illustrations or sketches may exist, attempts by Kew’s illustration team to locate anything have been fruitless.
Professor Stephen Hopper, Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, says “We have a vast collection of illustrations here at Kew and curation is an ongoing job. It is always wonderful when we turn up a hidden gem of such historical importance. To our knowledge there are no other earlier representations of Everest by a European, in which case this discovery could be one of the most important findings in Kew’s archives.”
The Kew archives also hold a watercolour based on the Hooker sketch (above right) by Walter Hood-Fitch (1817-1892), which was produced two years later in around 1850.
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