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Joseph Dufour & Cie (Manufacturer) Jean-Gabriel Charvet (Designer)

Les Sauvages de la mer Pacifique (The Native Peoples of the Pacific Ocean)

Les Sauvages de la mer Pacifique (The Native Peoples of the Pacific Ocean) by Joseph Dufour & Cie, Jean-Gabriel Charvet

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'The purpose of the enterprise is to please the eye and to excite the imagination', wrote Joseph Dufour in the promotional prospectus published with this panoramic, or scenic, wallpaper. The complete 'wallpaper without ends' extended to 10.8 metres and contained views of exotic Pacific peoples and events, based on the accounts of European explorers from the previous century. This small section shows a wrestling match in Tongatapu, Tonga, part of a fête witnessed by Captain James Cook on his third and last voyage to the Pacific. Local 'royalty' and the King and Queen of 'nearby' St Christine in the Marquesas Islands are among the guests. Dufour describes the scene: 'The king of Tongatabo who is pictured in this scene under a banana tree with one of his favourite wives is a tall and handsome figure with the most dignified, elegant war-like costume imaginable . . . The dress of his favourite seems made on the model of those which covered the beautiful forms of the goddesses of mythology. It is the natural taste of these Indian women that determine the grace of this costume'. Les Sauvages de la mer Pacifique was first exhibited in Paris at the Exposition des Produits de l'Industrie, 1806, where a critic described it as 'most curious'. (from The Guide, 2001)

Les Sauvages de la mer Pacifique (The Native Peoples of the Pacific Ocean)
Production date
circa 1804
woodblock and gouache on paper
Size (h x w)
2200 x 1800 mm
Credit line
Mackelvie Trust Collection, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 1995
Accession no
No known copyright restrictions
International Art
Display status
Not on display

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