William Hodges, View of part of Owharre (Fare) Harbour, Island of Huahine, 1773
View of part of Owharre [Fare] Harbour, Island of Huahine. Hodges's paintings of the Pacific celebrate 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, many later converted to engravings in the official account of the voyage. He also did some oil paintings on the voyage but most, especially the larger ones, were painted in London on his return. The NMM 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. This small oil study was almost certainly made during the voyage's first visit to the Society Islands during August-September 1773. The freshness of the painting, its topographical accuracy and its treatment of light indicate that it was done on the spot. Cook anchored in Fare harbour on the west of Huahine on 2 September 1773, staying for some five days. Hodges's picture of the bay, overlooked by a towering, craggy peak, silhouetted against a vast sky and becalmed ocean, must have been painted during this period, presumably from the ship's cabin. The uneven paint application suggests a fairly hasty execution. Whereas the sky is painted with the thinnest layer of oil, allowing the grain of the canvas to show through, heavy impasto distinguishes the native craft, the rocky outcrops of the shoreline and the water breaking over the reef. Further variety is provided by the stark contrast of sunlit outcrops and shadow on the mountainside, and the more intricate variation of light and dark areas in the island's lush vegetation. This is one of a group of four small paintings made of the Society Islands during August–September 1773; all are of similar dimensions and employ similar canvas and painterly techniques.