A Tahitian woman in majesty: French images of Queen Pomare

Viviane Fayaud


Paul Gauguin was not the first but the last French artist to paint Polynesia. In the wake of French navigations in the Pacific Ocean, thousands of drawings, watercolours and paintings were made. To these can be added engravings of varying quality in atlases, books or the press. These images conveyed but also distorted or metamorphosed reality. Whether transformations exist, and their nature and degree, can be measured by in-depth analysis. This is shown by a study of the iconography of Queen Pomare IV. Moreover, this iconography reveals eloquent changes. Thus images prove to be an important documentary source for the historian.

This article has been peer-reviewed.


French Polynesia; Histoire Polynésie française; French Drawings; 19th century Polynesia; Myth of Tahiti

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