Voyage of the Beagle

Voyage of the Beagle

Voyage of the Beagle


A painting of the voyage of HMS Beagle, the ship on which Charles Darwin travelled around the world -with particular attention to South America – making discoveries as he went that would change the course of natural science.

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This painting, The Voyage of the Beagle, celebrates Charles Darwin’s epic voyage around the coast of South America in HMS Beagle. This amazing trip began in 1831 and was captained by Sir Robert Fitzroy. It would change Darwin’s life and equip him with the knowledge he needed to develop his remarkable theory of evolution by natural selection.

Darwin published an account of the voyage in 1839. He gave it the remarkably uncatchy title Journal and Remarks. Despite this it was hugely successful. The book is now known as The Voyage of the Beagle. It was an exciting piece of travel writing for readers who were hungry for knowledge of the outside world. But it’s also Darwin’s scientific field journal in which he notes all kinds of observations on the natural world.


In my painting, the orange line is (more or less) the route HMS Beagle took. The voyage actually circumnavigated the planet, but they spent a couple of years schlepping up and the coast, mapping it. Around the blue disk of the earth, I have included all kinds of creatures that Darwin saw.

Darwin spent just 5 weeks in Galapagos. He wrote:

“Considering the small size of these islands, we feel the more astonished at the number of their aboriginal beings, and at their confined range… within a period geologically recent the unbroken ocean was here spread out. Hence, both in space and time, we seem to be brought somewhat near to that great fact – that mystery of mysteries – the first appearance of new beings on this earth.

Speaking of the finches with their gradations in size of beaks, he writes “one might really fancy that from an original paucity of birds in this archipelago, one species had been taken and modified for different ends.”

In 2016, I achieved a 50-year ambition and visited Galapagos. I made a map