HODGES, William
(b. 1744, London, d. 1797, Brixham)

Tahiti Revisited

Oil on canvas, 98 x 138 cm
National Maritime Museum, Greenwich

On the second voyage of Captain Cook (1744-97) William Hodges was the accompanying artist. His studies were full of documentary detail, but the paintings developed from them for exhibition at the Royal Academy were fully resolved works of art. In Tahiti Revisited shown in 1776, the admittedly rather classical landscape is filled with carefully observed details such as the native house, banana trees and the tattooed buttocks that so astonished Europeans.

The marvellously atmospheric handling of this and other pictures owed much to Hodges's practice of making oil studies directly from the large window of Cook's cabin.