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A Cascade in the Tuauru Valley, Tahiti

Oil paintings

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Object ID BHC2373
Description 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 identification of this landscape is unclear and although it was long thought to be a view in Dusky Bay, New Zealand, recent scholarship has provided the location given in the present title. It was painted from sketches developed in May 1774, during the 'Resolution's' second visit to Tahiti and shows a river cascading on either side of the basalt rock in the centre foreground. It is the volcanic landscape and basalt rock formations that suggest Tahiti rather than New Zealand, and Hodges is recorded as drawing the cascade in the Tuauru Valley. His small depiction of the rapids against the distant mountains emanated from the variety of small sketches that Hodges executed very quickly on the spot. The left side of the composition is heavily painted but the warm brown ground colour is visible under the waterfall and in the foliage to the right. The dark foreground contrasts strongly with the distant mountain partly obscure by mist and, unusually for Hodges, he has not used the depiction of figures to inform the scene. Hodges' intention here is to demonstrate his perception of the sensuous beauty and wildness of the idyllic setting, incorporating elements of the sublime to elevate and transform the picture. This is likely a study for a large pair with BHC2372, which were never worked up. See also BHC2396.
Date made circa 1775

Artist/Maker Hodges, William
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Materials oil on panel
Measurements Frame: 645 mm x 778 mm x 75 mm;Overall: 716 mm x 778 mm x 78 mm x 10.8 kg;Painting: 499 x 641 mm
  • A Cascade in the Tuauru Valley, Tahiti (BHC2373)
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