Thursday, March 24, 2016

Recent acquisitions: Twenty-four original photo cabinet card views of Tahiti


The Pacific Collection recently acquired a set of twenty-four cabinet card images of Tahiti, taken circa 1895 by an unidentified member of an American tourist group. The photographs include a range of subjects, some with captions, including landscapes, interiors and exteriors of buildings, and Tahitians. One image in particular stands out -- a man, woman and child in front of their home. On the back of the image is a hand-written caption: "Lawyer Goupil's residence, finest on the island." On the one hand, both the image and caption are somewhat unimpressive, but they hint at a more historic value: Auguste Goupil was a well-known lawyer in Tahiti. The image presumably shows Goupil, his wife and their daughter, Jeanne. Roughly a year after this photo was taken, Goupil hired Paul Gauguin to paint Jeanne, which resulted in one of Gauguin's more famous works, "Portrait of a Young Woman, Vaite (Jeanne) Goupil." A detail of the photograph and Gauguin's painting are pictured at right.
The Tahitian images are one of thirty-seven separate photo collections maintained by the Pacific Collection. To browse a list of these collections, visit the library's Voyager catalog, and in the basic search mode, select "Call number (DVD, CD, VHS, etc.)" from the list of search options, and then search for Photograph P. The Pacific Collection has also digitized roughly 16,000 images from it's physical holdings. All of these are available for viewing online via the UH-M Library's digital collections homepage.