William Hodges painted A View in Dusky Bay, New Zealand from watercolour and pencil studies on his return to England. His approach to the subject of exploration and first encounter follows his classical training. The ‘noble warrior’ in the foreground represents the Māori man Hodges met while at Dusky Bay. A crew member recounted that the man was around 60 years old and stood about six feet tall.
A View in Dusky Bay is considered the earliest oil painting of Māori in the European tradition. It is a romantic view that portrays Dusky Bay as a sublime landscape, laden with drama, where nature is hero. Hodges’s work reveals how explorer art supported Captain James Cook’s voyages, and how the British traditions of landscape painting were taken into the Pacific.