Mai (Omai)

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Mai (Omai)

by Samuel William Reynolds, after Sir Joshua Reynolds
mezzotint, published 1834
8 7/8 in. x 6 3/8 in. (227 mm x 163 mm) plate size; 11 7/8 in. x 9 1/2 in. (302 mm x 241 mm) paper size
Reference Collection
NPG D9175

Sitterback to top

  • Mai (Omai) (circa 1753-circa 1780), First Polynesian to visit England. Sitter in 7 portraits.

Artistsback to top

  • Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792), Painter and first President of the Royal Academy. Artist or producer associated with 1424 portraits, Sitter associated with 39 portraits.
  • Samuel William Reynolds (1773-1835), Mezzotint engraver and painter. Artist or producer associated with 635 portraits, Sitter in 3 portraits.

This portraitback to top

The impact of Reynolds painting, which was widely known through this mezzotint, had an important influence on the perception of Omai as a 'noble savage.'

Linked publicationsback to top

Placesback to top

  • Place portrayed: Haiti (Utietea, Haiti)

Events of 1834back to top

Current affairs

Sir Robert Peel, Tory, replaces Whig Lord Melbourne as Prime Minister, promising measured reform in a shift from reactionary 'Tory' to more measured 'Conservative' politics (he had voted for the 1832 Reform Act).
Trial of Tolpuddle Martyrs, six labourers transported to Australia after trying to raise funds for workers in need by forming a Friendly Society.

Art and science

Charles Babbage's invents the Analytic Machine. Considered to be the forerunner to the modern computer, the machine was able to make automatic mathematical calculations.
Edward Bulwer-Lytton publishes his hugely popular, but now largely neglected, novel Last Days of Pompeii, set in the Italian city at the time of Mount Vesuvius' eruption in 79AD.

International

Dom Miguel I, King of Portugal, is defeated by his brother Pedro IV, in the Portuguese civil war.
Slavery is abolished in the British dominions, although slaves still working are indentured to their former owners in an 'apprenticeship' system; the philanthropist Joseph Sturge was a prominent critic of the policy, which was abolished in 1838. Whilst slave owners received compensation, slaves received nothing.

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