'View of Owharee [Fare] Harbour, Island of Huaheine [Huahine]'

Hodges' paintings of the Pacific are vivid records of British exploration. He was appointed by the Admiralty to record the places discovered on Cook's second voyage, undertaken in the 'Resolution' and 'Adventure', 1772-75. This was primarily in the form of drawings, with some oil sketches, many later converted to engravings in the official voyage account. He also completed large oil paintings for exhibition in London on his return, which exercised lasting influence on European ideas of the Pacific. The National Maritime Museum holds 26 oils relating to the voyage of which 24 were either painted for or acquired by the Admiralty.

Cook's main purpose on this expedition was to locate, if possible, the much talked-of but unknown Southern Continent and further expand knowledge of the central Pacific islands, in which Hodges' records of coastal profiles were in part important for navigational reasons. The impact of this work on Hodges' painting is evident in his small oil studies of the islands and coastlines.

This study was almost certainly made during the voyage's first visit to the Society Islands during August-September 1773. The freshness of the painting, its topographical accuracy and its treatment of light indicate that it was done on the spot. Cook anchored in Fare harbour on the west of Huahine on 2 September 1773, staying for some five days. Hodges's picture of the bay, overlooked by a towering, craggy peak, silhouetted against a vast sky and becalmed ocean, must have been painted during this period, presumably from the ship's cabin. The uneven paint application suggests a fairly hasty execution. Whereas the sky is painted with the thinnest layer of oil, allowing the grain of the canvas to show through, heavy impasto (thick paint) distinguishes the native craft, the rocky outcrops of the shoreline and the water breaking over the reef. Further variety is provided by the stark contrast of sunlit outcrops and shadow on the mountainside, and the more intricate variation of light and dark areas in the island's lush vegetation. These contrasts of dark and light suggest the tropical light of late morning.

This is one of a group of four small paintings that Hodges made of the Society Islands during August–September 1773 (see also BHC2375, BHC1937 and BHC2376). All are of similar dimensions and employ similar canvas and painterly techniques.

Object Details

ID: BHC1840
Collection: Fine art
Type: Painting
Display location: Display - Pacific Encounters Gallery
Creator: Hodges, William
Date made: 1773
Exhibition: Art for the Nation; Ministry of Defence Art Collection The Art and Science of Exploration, 1768-80
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Measurements: Frame: 450 mm x 630 mm x 78 mm;Overall: 510 mm x 630 mm x 93 mm x 6 kg;Painting: 330 mm x 510 mm

Your Request

If an item is shown as “offsite”, please allow eight days for your order to be processed. For further information, please contact Archive staff:

Tel: (during Library opening hours)

Click “Continue” below to continue processing your order with the Library team.