When Captain James Cook, British naval officer and famed explorer, visited the Pacific island of Tahiti for the second time in 1774, its fleet was preparing for a punishment expedition against the neighbouring island of Mocorea. Cook and William Hodges, the expedition painter, took great interest in these war preparations, as did the general public when Hodges’ painting The War Boats of the Island of Otaheite [Tahiti] was exhibited in London in 1777. Cook estimated that the expedition involved 160 large war canoes, 170 smaller ones and no less than 7,760 men.
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