The Tahitian Princess Poedua
National Maritime Museum, London
Another artwork from the last voyage of Captain Cook. Wikipedia gives more evidence of what an a**hole he was:
Poedua (circa 1758 – ?) was a Raiatea princess, daughter of Orea (Orio), King of Ulietea. She was taken hostage together with father, brother, and husband during the third voyage of James Cook in exchange of two sailors that deserted onto the island. The hostages were enticed on board the HMS Discovery, imprisoned until Orea secured the return of the deserters.
For many contemporaries John Weber’s portrait of Poedua epitomized the sensual image of the South Sea maiden.
I truly hope the viewers of this painting pay attention to the last line there…hypersexualized images of women of color from around the world served as advertisements for colonialism targeted toward European men for centuries. Eckhout’s series of Brazilian portraits were commissioned for the same purpose; there is little doubt that this was the reason for Webber’s inclusion on the voyage.
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