Moreau le Jeune’s painting “Le Rendez-vous” was the inspiration for the 1779 doll. Jean-Michel Moreau le Jeune (1741-1814) was a French illustrator and engraver best known for his illustrations recording fashionable dress and interiors in the “Monument de costume physique et morale” published by L.F. Prault in 1776-1783. The original etching and engraving is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art collection.
On this day in 1779, the British explorer James Cook died aged fifty in Kealakekua Bay, Hawaii. Cook is famous for his ‘discovery’ of Australia in 1770,
where he landed at Botany Bay and claimed the island for Great Britain. This set the stage for further exploration of the nation and settlement by the British, initially using the island as a penal colony. This colonisation was accompanied with a campaign of violence and persecution against the indigenous Australians, and has left a legacy that is still felt today in modern Australia.
After his seminal voyage to Australia, Cook continued his travels and undertook three voyages in total. On the
third voyage, Cook landed in Hawaii where the indigenous islanders allegedly
initially worshipped him as a god, as his arrival fit the story of the return of their deity Lono. In February 1779, a small group of Hawaiians stole one of Cook’s small boats, and Cook attempted to take their leader hostage
in retaliation. The relations between Cook and his men with the indigenous Hawaiians were therefore no longer amicable. Tensions came to a head when the Hawaiians attacked Cook as he was on his way to kidnap the king, and in the fray the explorer was stabbed and subsequently died. Cook’s body was prepared and buried per Hawaiian tradition, a sign that the islanders continued to hold the captain in some measure of esteem. Several of Cook’s sailors also died in the altercation, while the remaining crew continued with the voyage, returning to Britain in October 1780.