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Description - Imagining the Pacific by Bernard Smith

European artists and scientists traveling to the Pacific during the time of Cook's voyages were often stimulated to see the world in new and creative ways. In this book, a preeminent art historian discusses how these voyages influenced art and literature of the period.

Bernard Smith discusses in detail such issues as the impact of science, topography, and travel on the genres of the academy; the effects of empirical naturalism on long-standing classical conventions; and the difficulties faced by artists who were totally ignorant of the people and places they were to portray. Smith argues that the obligation science placed on art to provide information was a factor in the triumph of Impressionism during the late nineteenth century, pointing out, for example, that William Hodges, Cook's official artist on his second voyage to the Pacific, was one of the first artists to adopt plein-air methods of painting. Describing the impact of the Pacific world on burgeoning English Romanticism, Smith tells of the crucial influence that Cook's astronomer, William Wales, had on S.T. Coleridge. He also delineates the ways in which an apparently documentary art can be fashioned to suit political concerns, revealing how John Webber, the official artist on the third voyage, composed his drawings to suggest that Cook's relationships with the peoples of the Pacific were amicable when they often were not.

In this handsome book Smith explores in greater detail, in more depth, and across a shorter time span some of the historical problems that he first addressed in his classic European Vision and the South Pacific. This book will take its place alongside the earlier work as a milestone in historical scholarship.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780300050530
ISBN-10: 0300050534
Format: Hardback
(279mm x 203mm x mm)
Pages: 380
Imprint: Yale University Press
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publish Date: 1-Sep-1992
Country of Publication: United States

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Author Biography - Bernard Smith

Bernard Smith is emeritus professor of contemporary art and former director of the Power Institute of Fine Arts, University of Sydney. He is also coauthor of The Art of Captain Cook's Voyages and coeditor of The Art of the First Fleet and Other Early Australian Drawings.

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