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A Waterfall in Tahiti

Oil paintings

Object connections:

Collection Oil paintings, Fine art
ExhibitionsThe Art and Science of Exploration, 1768-80
User collections Captain Cook's Second Voyage by NMMCollections
Gallery locationQH (Floor plans)
PeopleProvenance: HM Admiralty

Object details:

Object ID BHC2372
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, showing a waterfall over baslat pillars of rock. It is the volcanic landscape and basalt formations that suggest Tahiti rather than New Zealand, and Hodges is recorded as drawing the cascade in the Tuauru Valley. Unusually for Hodges, he has not used the depiction of figures to inform the scene. His intention 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 BHC2373, 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 Painting: 700 mm x 785 mm; Frame: 642 mm x 778 mm x 78 mm;Frame inc.cartouche: 697 mm x 778 mm x 105 mm;Weight: 10 kg;
  • A Waterfall in Tahiti (BHC2372)
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