Woman and Boy of Patagonia in South America receiving beads from Admiral Byron
- Alexander Hogg
- Work Locations: London, England
- Active Dates: 1778-1819
Eason, Woman and Boy of Patagonia in South America receiving beads from Admiral Byron, 1784. Engraving on paper; 11½ × 7 in. Gift of the Collection of Frederick and Jan Mayer, 2013.382.
Tales of Patagonian giants began to circulate in the 1500s after the circumnavigation of the globe by Ferdinand Magellan. Though Magellan did not survive to report on his remarkable journey, his assistant, Antonio Pigafetta published an account describing the men of Patagonia as giants “so tall that the tallest of us only came up to his waist.” These fabulous tales were repeated by other authors over the following centuries. In 1764, Commodore John Byron, grandfather of the famed poet Lord Byron, began his own circumnavigation via the Strait of Magellan, near the tip of the South American continent. An unauthorized account of Byron’s travels, A Voyage Round the World in His Majesty’s Ship the Dolphin (London, 1767) repeated the claims about the giants of Patagonia, which revived interest in the legend throughout Europe.
The frontispiece to the fictitious account of Byron’s journey shows an Englishman giving a biscuit to oversized Patagonians, and this engraving is likely derived from it. This version differs slightly, showing Byron handing a set of beads to the Patagonian woman, presumably for trade. The inscription above notes that the image was published by Alexander Hogg of London (active 1778-1819) and was included in a collection of travel accounts published by Hogg in 1784.
– Kathryn Santner, Frederick and Jan Mayer Fellow of Spanish Colonial Art, 2022