'View of the Province of Oparree [Pare], Island of Otaheite, with part of the Island of Eimeo [Moorea]'

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.

This panoramic view of Tahiti’s northern shoreline and neighbouring islands is one of Hodges's most complex paintings, with an unusual composition and particularly free style. The placement of the islanders’ canoe, cut off by the bottom edge, is very unusual and adds to the sense of vastness. Hodges's emphasis upon light, air and colour combined with the absence of classicising and literary elements of the larger post-voyage paintings has led to suggestions that this was painted on the voyage, and as a pair with another same-size panel painting of ‘A View of the Monuments of Easter Island [Rapanui]' (BHC1795). If that is the case, however, they were almost certainly done late in the voyage on the way home from Cape Town and on the basis that Hodges had been able to replenish his paint stock there, since there is evidence that by the time he reached Easter Island he no longer had sufficient materials for the colourful and liquid handling of paint which is so evident in both pictures. More recent evidence suggests that they were probably painted in London in 1776-77, and that their breadth of handling and brightness is more accountable to being designed as overdoor paintings, necessarily seen at a distance.

Object Details

ID: BHC1936
Collection: Fine art
Type: Painting
Display location: Display - QH
Creator: Hodges, William
Date made: circa 1776; Late 18th century
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: Painting: 768 mm x 1232 mm x 11 mm; Frame: 951 mm x 1409 mm x 102 mm

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