1780 Cook Benard Antique Prints x 2 of the Tahitians of Patatow & Omai

Publisher : Captain James Cook

  • Title  : Otoo Roi de Tahiti; Potatow Chef de Tahiti
  • Date  : 1780
  • Condition: (A+) Fine Condition
  • Ref # : 16352 & 16353
  • Size  : 10 1/4in x 7 3/4in (260mm x 200mm) ea


These two fine original antique prints  portraits of Tahitians of Patatow & Omai - the first people to visit England from the South Seas  - was engraved by the Frenchman Robert Benard - after Captain James Cook's second voyage - for the French edition of Cooks voyages published in 1780.

In 1774, the first Polynesian to visit London travelled to England with the crew of Captain Cook's second Pacific voyage and became an overnight sensation. Seen as a living example of the 'Noble Savage', Omai as he was known, was discussed by scientists and philosophers, celebrated in all the best circles and written about in everything from poetry to pornography. He proved a lightning rod for European anxieties regarding imperialism, civilisation and the true nature of mankind. The artistic and literary legacy of Omai's encounter with Europe provides a fascinating insight into European culture in a moment of transition, when old certainties were collapsing and new ones were yet to form. Omai arrived at Portsmouth on 14 July 1774 as a crew-member on board HMS Adventure, captained by Tobias Furneaux. Taken immediately to meet Lord Sandwich, the First Lord of the Admiralty, he was then placed in the care of Joseph Banks and Dr Solander, both of whom he claimed to remember from their visit to Tahiti five years earlier. Three days later, on 17 July, he was presented to King George III and Queen Charlotte at Kew. It was at this introduction that Omai would reveal the grace and ‘natural’ good manners that first astounded and then delighted his audience. Once approved by the highest in the land, Omai’s career as a ‘social lion’ was assured. When Omai returned to the Pacific in 1776, many felt that the failure to convert him to Christianity was an important opportunity missed. 

Cook's Second Voyage (1772-1775) Based on the success of his first voyage, Cook was appointed by the Admiralty to lead a second expedition. Two ships were employed with Cook commanding the Resolution and Captain Tobias Furneaux in charge of the Adventure. The purpose was to circumnavigate the globe as far south as possible to confirm the location of a southern continent. Cook proved that there was no "Terra Australis," which supposedly was located between New Zealand and South America. Cook was convinced, however, that there was land beyond the southern ice fields. In his pursuit of this idea, this expedition was the first European voyage to cross the Antarctic Circle. In addition, in two great sweeps through the Southern latitudes, Cook made an incredible number of landfalls including New Zealand, Easter Island, the Marquesas, Tahiti and the Society Islands, the Tonga Islands, the New Hebrides, New Caledonia, and a number of smaller islands. In addition to these navigational accomplishments and the accompanying expansion of geographical knowledge, the expedition also recorded a vast amount of information regarding the Pacific islands and peoples, proved the value of the chronometer as an instrument for calculating longitude, and improved techniques for preventing scurvy. (Ref Tooley; M&B; Clancy)

General Description:
Paper thickness and quality: - Heavy and stable
Paper color: - off white
Age of map color: - 
Colors used: - 
General color appearance: - 
Paper size: - 10 1/4in x 7 3/4in (260mm x 200mm)
Plate size: - 10in x 7 1/2in (245mm x 190mm)
Margins: - 1/2in (12mm)

Margins: - None
Plate area: - None
Verso: - None