Biographical / Historical
Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Images from Tahiti
Date (inclusive): 1870-1895
1.5 Linear Feet
1 box (19 photographic prints)
The Getty Research Institute
1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
Los Angeles 90049-1688
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.
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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
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
Pape Moe (1883-1894) is perhaps the closest.
Giles, Keith, "Charles Burton Hoare (1833-c1879), a Mancunian in Paradise,"
Geaneant entry for Marie-Charles Georges Henri Spitz,
Conditions Governing Access
Open for use by qualified researchers.
Images from Tahiti, 1870-1895, The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, Accession no.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Acquired in 1988 and 1992.
The finding aid was written by Beth Ann Guynn in 2019.
The collection was digitized by the repository in 2019 and the images are available
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,
Subjects - Names
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
France -- Colonies -- Oceania
Genres and Forms of Material
Albumen prints -- Society Islands -- Tahiti -- 19th
Postmortem photographs -- Society Islands -- Tahiti -- 19th