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Omai, A Native of Ulaietea
London: Publish'd according to Act of Parlt., 25th October, 1774. Etching and stipple engraving, 540 x 330 mm.; a good, well-inked and very crisp impression, generous margins; mounted. The ideal image of the Noble Savage. A wonderful full-length portrait of Omai (also known as "Mai"), the Tahitian who was seen as the embodiment of Rousseau's noble savage when he arrived in England on the Adventure with Captain Furneaux in 1774. The portrait is based on a painting by Nathaniel Dance, who would later also paint Captain Cook. Here, he is shown carrying a wooden pillow-stool and feathered circlet, and draped in tapa cloth. Banks so admired Dance's painting that he personally commissioned Bartolozzi to do the engraving. Bartolozzi was renowned for his technique of "stippled" engravings, of which this is a fine example. The portrait is testament to the contemporary interest in Omai, and this romantic portrayal was one of the first large-scale and separately-issued images that were produced to satisfy European curiosity, and to advance anthropological interest in the peoples of the Pacific. This tradition of taking exotic natives of interest back to London began with Captain Cook and continued well into the nineteenth century. The four-line inscription mentions both Furneaux and, particularly, Lord Sandwich of the Admiralty, who was Omai's great friend and protector during his two-year stay in England.
      [Bookseller: Hordern House Rare Books]
Last Found On: 2014-07-29           Check availability:      Biblio    


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