Transplanting of the Bread Fruit Trees from Otaheite by Thomas Gosse, 1796

This picture was created by the artist to celebrate Captain Bligh’s return from his second voyage in 1791-93 which successfully took breadfruit from Tahiti for transplantation in the West Indies. No doubt the artist hoped to benefit from the publicity surrounding Bligh after the mutiny on his earlier voyage.

Bligh is shown overseeing the operation with the Tahitian King Tu (or Otoo). King Tu had known Cook well and had become his taio or ceremonial friend. He was apparently enormously tall and of substantial girth. His dress seems more to resemble the Oriental style used in portraits of Omai, rather than what Tahitians actually wore.

Acquired with the help of The Art Fund