Search the Collection


(circa 1753-circa 1780), First Tahitian to visit England

Sitter in 5 portraits
In 1774, Omai became the first Polynesian to visit Britain when he returned with Captain Cook from his second voyage of the South Pacific. He lived in London with scientist and socialite Joseph Banks, who had met Omai in Tahiti and was interested in observing how a 'native' responded to European society. Throughout his stay Omai was feted by nobility, entertained by scientists and introduced to celebrities. His charm, good humour and sense of etiquette were demonstrated at his audience with George III and he was quickly discovered to be a sophisticated man with a complex culture of his own. He returned to Tahiti with Cook in 1776 but had a lasting impact on the popular culture of eighteenth-century Britain.

Tell us More

List Thumbnail

Omai, by Page - NPG D9162


by Page
line engraving, published August 1774
NPG D9162

Omai, by Francesco Bartolozzi, after  Nathaniel Dance (later Sir Nathaniel Holland, Bt) - NPG D14242


by Francesco Bartolozzi, after Nathaniel Dance (later Sir Nathaniel Holland, Bt)
etching and stipple engraving, published 25 October 1774
NPG D14242

Omai, by Johann Jacobé, after  Sir Joshua Reynolds - NPG D1361


by Johann Jacobé, after Sir Joshua Reynolds
mezzotint, 1780
On display in Room 14 at the National Portrait Gallery
NPG D1361

Omai, by Samuel William Reynolds, after  Sir Joshua Reynolds - NPG D9175


by Samuel William Reynolds, after Sir Joshua Reynolds
mezzotint, published 1834
NPG D9175


Tell us more back to top

Can you tell us more about this person? Spotted an error, information that is missing (a sitter’s life dates, occupation or family relationships, or a date of portrait for example) or do you know anything that we don't know? If you have information to share please complete the form below.

If you require information from us, please use our Archive enquiry service. If you wish to license an image, please use our Rights and Images service.

Please note that we cannot provide valuations.

We digitise over 8,000 portraits a year and we cannot guarantee being able to digitise images that are not already scheduled.

What can you tell us?close

There are occasions when we are unsure of the identity of a sitter or artist, their life dates, occupation or have not recorded their family relationships. Sometimes we have not recorded the date of a portrait. Do you have specialist knowledge or a particular interest about any aspect of the portrait or sitter or artist that you can share with us? We would welcome any information that adds to and enhances our information and understanding about a particular portrait, sitter or artist.


How do you know this? Please could you let us know your source of information.

* Permission to publish (Privacy information)
Privacy Informationclose

The National Portrait Gallery will NOT use your information to contact you or store for any other purpose than to investigate or display your contribution. By ticking permission to publish you are indicating your agreement for your contribution to be shown on this collection item page. Please note your email address will not be displayed on the page nor will it be used for any marketing material or promotion of any kind.

Please ensure your comments are relevant and appropriate. Your contributions must be polite and with no intention of causing trouble. All contributions are moderated.

Your Emailclose

Contributions are moderated. We'll need your email address so that we can follow up on the information provided and contact you to let you know when your contribution has been published.