Omai, A Native of Ulaietea. OMAI, Nathaniel DANCE, F. BARTOLOZZI.

Omai, A Native of Ulaietea.

London: Publish'd according to Act of Parlt. 25th October 1774.

Etching and stipple engraving, 540 x 330 mm.; framed.

The ideal image of the "Noble Savage"

A wonderful full-length portrait of Omai (also known as "Mai"), the Tahitian who was seen as an outstanding example of Rousseau's noble savage when he arrived in England on the Adventure with Captain Furneaux on the return to England of Cook's second voyage in 1774. The portrait is based on the painting by Nathaniel Dance, who would later also paint Captain Cook. Omai is shown carrying the wooden pillow-stool now in the Musée de Tahiti et des Iles. With a feathered circlet and draped in tapa cloth and with tattooed hands he embodies the beauty of the newly discovered Pacific islanders.

A wonderful full-length portrait of Omai (also known as "Mai"), the Tahitian who was seen as an outstanding example of Rousseau's noble savage when he arrived in England on the Adventure with Captain Furneaux on the return to England of Cook's second voyage in 1774. The portrait is based on the painting by Nathaniel Dance, who would later also paint Captain Cook. Omai is shown carrying the wooden pillow-stool now in the Musée de Tahiti et des Iles. With a feathered circlet and draped in tapa cloth and with tattooed hands he embodies the beauty of the newly discovered Pacific islanders.

Dance's portrait is the best known of the several images of the famous Tahitian, who was placed in the care of Joseph Banks and Dr Solander when he arrived in England, both of whom he remembered from their visit to Tahiti five years earlier on Cook's first voyage. His natural grace captivated London society. This romantic portrait exemplifies the great contemporary interest in Omai: it was one of the first of the large-scale and separately-issued images produced to satisfy European curiosity and anthropological interest in the peoples of the Pacific. This tradition of taking exotic natives of interest back to Europe really took hold with the voyagers of the second half of the eighteenth century, most famously with Bougainville and Cook (though nearly a hundred years earlier Dampier had taken Giolo, the "Painted Prince", back to England with him) 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.

Francesco Bartolozzi was renowned throughout Europe for his technique of "stippled" engravings, of which this is a fine example. Joseph Banks so admired Dance's painting that he personally commissioned Bartolozzi to do the engraving. Bartolozzi was born in Florence in 1727 and after studying drawing moved to Venice specifically to pursue his interest in engraving. He arrived in London in 1764 and was quickly appointed "Engraver to the King". Remaining in London for the next forty years Bartolozzi was a founding member of the Royal Academy from 1768.

Beddie, 4569; Nan Kivell and Spence, p. 238 (illustrated, p. 75).

Condition Report: A good, well-inked and very crisp impression, with generous margins.

Price (AUD): $11,500.00

US$8,224.39   Other currencies

Ref: #3904130

Condition Report