1766 - after 1811
José Cardero was born in 1766 in Écija, Southern Spain. He is most remembered for his work on the expedition of Alessandro Malaspina and the related expedition of Dionisio Alcalá Galiano.
Nothing is known about Cardero's life until he sailed with Malaspina in 1789. He was a member of the crew of Malaspina's corvette, the Descubierta, perhaps as a servant. He showed an aptitude for drawing early in the voyage and after Juan del Pozo Bauzá, one of the official artists, was discharged in Peru, Cardero began producing drawings regularly. In 1791, when the expedition was in Acapulco, New Spain (Mexico), Cardero was officially confirmed as an artist and map drawer of the expedition.
He sailed with Malaspina to Alaska, were he made many drawings of the Tlingit. After returning to Mexico, Malaspina assigned him to serve as an artist on the expedition of Galiano and Cayetano Valdés, both officers of Malaspina's who were given ships and the task of exploring the Strait of Georgia. Cardero sailed on Valdés's ship, the Mexicana, in 1792. During the voyage the Spanish met and worked with George Vancouver, who was exploring the Strait of Georgia for the British. Both expeditions sailed around Vancouver Island.
Cardero's duties on the Galiano expedition included not only making drawings and fair copies of sketch maps, but serving in boat parties sent out to explore. After the voyage many of Cardero's drawings were copied and improved upon by other artists, especially the painter Fernando Brambila in Madrid. Brambila, who had never been to the Pacific Northwest, produced higher quality artwork but sometimes added unrealistic details.
After the Galiano voyage, Cardero returned to Spain and worked with Valdés and Malaspina briefly. In 1795 he was reassigned as a Ship Accountant in the Spanish Navy and sent to Cádiz. His name appears on a list of permanent officers of the navy from 1797 to 1811, after which there is no further mention of him in known records. The reason for the removal of his name from the list of officers in 1811 is not known.
Galiano voyage, Cordero Channel, originally Canal de Cardero, commemorates
Jose Cardero. Cardero Street, in Vancouver's West End is named for the
strait, and only as a result indirectly for Jose Cardero. Other places
in British Columbia were later named in his honour as well, including
Dibuxante Point, "dibuxante" being Spanish for "draughtsman".
Kendrick, John. The Voyage of Sutil and Mexicana, 1792: The Last Spanish Exploration of the Northwest Coast of America. The Arthur H. Clark Company. Spokane, Washington. 1990.