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|THE ARRIVAL OF
CABRILLO AT SAN DIEGO IN 1542
Oil on canvas (970 x 770)mm
Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo set out from Navidad in Mexico in June 1542. His intention was to explore northward along the American west coast, which had been explored as far as Baja Point by Francisco de Ulloa. Cabrillo had three ships: the galleon San Salvador, a smaller carrack, La Victoria and a lateen rigged oared frigata San Miguel. On 28 September he anchored in what is now San Diego Bay and landed, claiming the land for Spain. Ashore they were approached by three natives and this is the scene depicted in the painting.
Continuing the voyage, landing frequently, they rounded Point Conception on 18 October, Missed the entance to San Francisco and explored as far north as the Russian River where the oncoming winter forced them to turn back. At Catalina Island they stopped to winter over and while there Cabrillo badly injured his leg, which became infected. He died on 3 January 1543. The ships retuned to Navidad where they arrived on 14 April.
Thhe Spanish had already pillaged Mexico and South America. Now they turned north with the pupose of seeking mythical cities rumoured to be packed with gold and and a tribe of Amazonian women. They only found a rugged coast, bad weather and primitive peoples.The gold was there but it was to be 300 years before it was discovered in the hills rising to the High Sierra.