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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Biographical / Historical
  • Administrative Information
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Images from Tahiti
    Date (inclusive): 1870-1895
    Number: 93.R.90
    Physical Description: 1.5 Linear Feet 1 box (19 photographic prints)
    The Getty Research Institute
    Special Collections
    1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
    Los Angeles 90049-1688
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10020/askref
    (310) 440-7390
    Abstract: The collection of 19 photographs taken by Charles Georges Spitz and Sophia Hoare depicts people and events as well as everyday life in Tahiti during the last three decades of the 19th century. Included are portraits of the Tahitian royal family; photographs depicting the funeral of Pōmare V; and a group portrait of M. Chessé and the chiefs of Tahiti and Mo'orea, taken at the time of France's annexation of Tahiti in 1880.
    Request Materials: Request access to the physical materials described in this inventory through the catalog record   for this collection. Click here for the access policy .
    Language: Collection material is in French and English

    Biographical / Historical

    Sophia Hoare, née Johnson, (also known as Mrs. S. Hoare, Madame S. Hoare, Suzanne Hoare, or Susan Hoare) immigrated from Manchester, England to Auckland, New Zealand with her husband, Charles Burton Hoare and their three daughters in 1863. There Charles established a photography studio called Hoare & Wooster; the partner named Wooster has yet to be identified with certainty. By 1868 the Hoare family had moved on to Papeete, Tahiti, where Charles again opened a studio. There is no record of him in Tahiti after 1876, and he may have traveled to San Francisco, dying there or elsewhere in the United States around 1879. Sophia took over the business and ran Atelier Hoare for over 30 years.
    In 1889 Sophia exhibited her photographs at the Exposition Universelle de Paris where she was awarded a bronze medal. Prior to the exhibition Sophia signed her photographs "Mrs. S. Hoare," changing her imprint to "Madame S. Hoare" after 1889. In addition to increasing her exposure in general, the exposition was important to Hoare in that Paul Gaugauin would likely have encountered her photographs there. Gauguin would certainly have become personally acquainted with Sophia once he arrived in Papeete in 1891. That he knew her work is evidenced by the inclusion of one of her photographs of King Pōmare V in his original draft of Noa Noa. Sophia remained in Papette until 1904 when she and her daughter Elizabeth joined her other daughters Louisa and Octavia in San Francisco. Sophia died sometime between 1910 and 1920. The final disposition of Atelier Hoare is unknown.
    The French photographer, Marie-Charles Georges Henri Spitz, known as Charles Spitz or Georges Spitz, was born in Marmoutier, Bas-Rhin, on September 22, 1857, and died in Brest, Finistere, on January 9, 1894. He arrived in Tahiti in 1879 as a member of the French naval infantry and was released from duty in 1880. He remained in Tahiti and opened a studio in Papeete. His connection to the Hoare studio, if any, is unclear. After Spitz's death Frank Homes married his widow and took over his studio, eventually passing it to Spitz's son George (known as Loulou) who stamped his photographs "Spitz Curio Store."
    Like Sophia Hoare, Spitz exhibited at the 1889 Exposition Universelle de Paris and also won awards. Again, it is likely that Gauguin first became acquainted with Spitz's photography through the exposition and likely encountered the photographer in Tahiti. While several of Spitz's photographs have been attributed as sources for Gauguin's work, the connection between Spitz's image of a figure drinking from a forest waterfall and Gauguin's various versions of Pape Moe (1883-1894) is perhaps the closest.
    Sources consulted:
    Giles, Keith. "Charles Burton Hoare (1833-c1879), a Mancunian in Paradise," http://www.aucklandcity.govt.nz/dbtw-wpd%5Cphotographers%5Cessays%5CHoare.pdf
    Geaneant entry for Marie-Charles Georges Henri Spitz, https://gw.geneanet.org/efrogier?lang=en&n=spitz&oc=0&p=marie+charles+georges+henri
    Grob Gallery. "Gaugin, Tahiti and Photography." https://grobgallery.com/exhibitions/17/overview/

    Administrative Information

    Conditions Governing Access

    Open for use by qualified researchers.

    Publication Rights

    Preferred Citation

    Images from Tahiti, 1870-1895, The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, Accession no. 93.R.90.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Acquired in 1988 and 1992.

    Processing Information

    The finding aid was written by Beth Ann Guynn in 2019.

    Digitized Material

    The collection was digitized by the repository in 2019 and the images are available online:

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The collection of 19 albumen photographs taken by Charles Georges Spitz and Sophia Hoare depicts people and events as well as everyday life in Tahiti during the last three decades of the 19th century. Portraits of the Tahitian royal family include a photomontage of family members by Hoare, and portraits of Tamatao and Terutapunui, the brothers of Pōmare V, King of Tahiti. Four photographs depict the funeral of Pōmare V in June 1891: two show the king lying in state, and two show the exterior of the royal palace draped in mourning, one with the funeral carriage leaving the palace. These photographs are accompanied by a photocopy of a note written by Pōmare to Papeete's police commissioner in 1891 (original note in Tahitian and a French translation), requesting help in finding a lost dog.
    Other portraits include one of Admiral Marc de St. Hilaire, commander of the Duquesne and a group portrait of M. Chessé and the chiefs of Tahiti and Mooréa, taken by Hoare at the time of France's annexation of Tahiti in 1880.
    Images of Tahiti and Tahitians include a schooner wrecked on the reefs of Papeete; views of the town of Papeete; the lighthouse at Venus Point; groups of Tahitians posed in front of their homes; and a studio portrait of four young Tahitian men and women.
    Eleven photographs are annotated in French, in two distinct hands; four of these have Spitz's wet stamp in red ink on the verso: Photographie instantanée G. Spitz, Papeete, Tahiti. Eight prints are from a disbound album from the repository's Joseph Armstrong Baird collection of nineteenth century architectural photographs (accession no. 88.R.8) and are annotated in English in Baird's hand. All of the prints are mounted.


    Arranged in a single series: .Series I: Images from Tahiti, 1870-1895

    Indexing Terms

    Subjects - Names

    Hoare, Sophia
    Pomare, V (King of Tahiti), 1839-1891
    Spitz, Marie-Charles Georges Henri, 1857-1894

    Subjects - Topics

    Funeral rites and ceremonies -- French Polynesia -- Tahiti (Island)
    Tahitians -- Portraits

    Subjects - Places

    Tahiti (French Polynesia : Island) -- Description and travel.
    France -- Colonies -- Oceania
    Papeete (Tahiti)

    Genres and Forms of Material

    Photographs, Original.
    Albumen prints -- Society Islands -- Tahiti -- 19th century
    Postmortem photographs -- Society Islands -- Tahiti -- 19th century