View of Point Venus and Matavai Bay, looking east

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.

Hodges probably painted this as one of a series of four oil sketches (BHC1840, BHC2375, BHC2376) from the great cabin of the 'Resolution', during Cook’s visit to the Society Islands in August and September 1773. With a spontaneity extremely unusual for this period, these paintings show his concern to record the atmospheric effects of a tropical climate: the stark contrasts of light and dark, and the virtual elimination of mid-tones, capture the peculiar qualities of southern light. They also discard the conventions of landscape painting, which stress a clear progression from foreground to middle ground to distance. Until 1979 this painting had long and wrongly been identified as showing Vaitepeha Bay, from the early inscription on its frame.

Object Details

ID: BHC1937
Collection: Fine art
Type: Painting
Display location: Display - Pacific Encounters Gallery
Creator: Hodges, William
Date made: August 1773
Exhibition: Art for the Nation; Ministry of Defence Art Collection Ships, Clocks & Stars: The Quest for Longitude
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Measurements: Painting: 345 mm x 515 mm; Frame: 495 mm x 625 mm x 115 mm;Weight: 6.4 kg

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.