Oil paintings, Fine art

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View from Point Venus, Island of Otaheite [Tahiti]

Oil paintings

Object connections:

Collection Oil paintings, Fine art
ExhibitionsThe Art and Science of Exploration, 1768-80
User collections ESH6067WritingEmpire by ESH6067WritingEmpire
Captain Cook's Second Voyage by NMMCollections
Gallery locationNot on display

Object details:

Object ID BHC1938
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 impact of this work on Hodges' painting is evident in his small oil studies of the islands and coastlines. Point Venus in Tahiti was the site where Cook and astronomer Charles Green had observed the transit of Venus in 1769. This view shows Matavai Bay, one of the two main harbours used on the second voyage, and the most beautiful. It appears in a number of Hodges' works, completed both during and after the voyage, which created an enduring sense of the island paradise in the European imagination. This study was probably completed back in London, to be engraved for the published voyage account, as Hodges captures careful ehtnographic details of crafts and people as well as a sense of atmosphere. The enduring effect which the Pacific had on Hodges is evident from the ease with which he creates the sense of warm light and still water that he had captured in studies known to have been made on the voyage.
Date made Late 1770s

Artist/Maker Hodges, William
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Materials oil on panel
Measurements Painting: 240 mm x 470 mm; Frame: 348mm x 572 mm x 80 mm; Weight: 4.4kg
  • View from Point Venus, Island of Otaheite [Tahiti] (BHC1938)
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