Assignment 3; Week 4
Read the "Interpreting Visual Evidence" section for Ch. 17 (available in the textbook, in the "Textbook Materials" section and the "Assignments" section of the Blackboard site. Then use this forum to make at least two (2) posts: the first should be your answer to the questions below; the second and any subsequent posts should be replies to other student's posts. These replies should expand upon what the other student has written, asking questions to go deeper into the material and/or suggesting alternative answers that help get conversation going. All of your posts need to include citations to the relevant sources that you use to write your posts. (Full details on grading for this discussion board along with helpful instructions on how to make citations can be found in the "Syllabus" section of the Blackboard site.)
Does the Reynolds portrait, in its choice of posture and expression, imply that Europeans and the peoples of the Pacific might share essential traits? What uses might Enlightenment thinkers have made of such a universalist implication?
~ When you go looking for different portraits of Englishmen at the same time that the Omai portrait (as presented in the textbook) was painted or rather sketched as it seems, you tend to find a vast array of portraits that have other people positions and presented in a similar way to that of Omai in the Joshua Reynolds portrait. With that being said though, they are vastly different in one way. The portrait of Omai as presented in the textbook is extremely plain. All of the other portraits that I’ve seen as far as online and in other areas of the textbook are very elaborate. While it’s common for the backgrounds to be plain and sort of “undone,” the persons are all elaborately painted. They’re covered in their best dress and its sort of common for these people to be painted in their best dress or at least presented as though they are. With Omai, it genuinely looks unfinished with the version in the textbook, page 412. It seems as though Reynolds didn’t care to capture anything beyond his face and his face is presented as any other portrait of an Englishmen was. He has perfect posture practically, his face is directioned just right and it’s no different than anyone else’s portrait would be except that it’s unfinished. I feel that with his face alone, it presents this image of a person of the Pacific as being no different than any of the English. It gives everyone this idea that they’re no different than them, the Pacific culture is no different either. Page 412 says that “it shored up European’s sense of their superiority” (Cole, Symes, Coffin, Stacey). I think that ultimately speaks the most about the way that the Enlightenment thinkers viewed the way that the portrait was presented and what it spoke to as far as the culture and the life Omai came from the Pacific.
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How might a contemporary person in Britain have reacted to the portrait of Omai kneeling before the king?
~ To start my answer to this question, I have to prelude it by saying this: I am not the typical type of person when it comes to anything regarding the UK past or present. Outside of my college career, I’ve immersed myself into the culture and the history of the UK as a whole. I’m also currently in the middle of readying myself and family to move to the UK once I’ve finished my If you want to learn more check out What can we see with the given light out in space?
Bachelor’s Degree. That means that my answer to this question is based on my knowledge and understanding of the UK that isn’t based out of the information in the textbook.
Now, with that being said it’s obvious that the way the people of Britain responded or reacted to Omai kneeling to the King in 1774 is massively different than the way it would be viewed in today’s Britain. That should ultimately go without saying. In 1774, it was custom to kneel upon meeting a Monarch. It wasn’t just a bow or a curtsey, people would kneel as well as a sign of respect to the monarch they were meeting. In today’s society, kneeling to the Queen of England isn’t an everyday occurrence. You don’t see people take a knee as a sign of respect to Queen Elizabeth II with every event she’s in attendance at. It’s become tradition though to kneel when being knighted or when receiving an award from the Queen, which essentially is to tell the Queen that you are “submissive” in a way to the Crown and are a citizen of the Crown as well. So in today’s world, I think that Omai’s kneeling could be seen as a sign of respect, but mostly out of the understanding that he’s from a different culture and a different society. It could also be seen as Omai submitting to the ruling Monarch as well, in my opinion, though. It would greatly depend on the people and their individual opinions as to how it would be reacted to specifically. We also discuss several other topics like Describe the multiple functions of cell division.
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Do you think image C is an accurate representation of life in the South Pacific? What purpose did such imaginary and idyllic scenes serve for their audience in Europe?
~ To answer this question I would like to point to page 412, in the green “Interpreting Visual Evidence” box with the following quote – “These artists documented what they saw, but their vision was also shaped by the ideas that they brought with them and by the classical European styles” (Cole, Symes, Coffin, Stacey). That quote from the text alone leads me to believe that
image C is absolutely not an accurate representation. When it is implied that the images and the art that was created from this South Pacific venture is biased and not very close to being accurate, it makes a person doubt what is shown to them following that. By presenting imagery that is like this, imagery that is biased and also shapeable to be used by Enlightenment thinkers, it has this ambiguity that left it all open to opinion and perspective. The Enlightenment thinkers could read the images one way, while others could see it differently. It’s presented in a way that makes the inaccurate representation still have a purpose.