William Hodges, RA, (28 October 1744-6 March 1797) was an English painter, mainly of landscapes.
He was the pupil and assistant of Richard Wilson, 1758-65, and became a skilful imitator of his style.
His work took on more a personal character when he travelled as a draughtsman on Captain James Cook’s second voyage to the South Pacific in 1772-5.
He is best known for the sketches and paintings of locations he visited on that voyage.
Hodges completed this painting five years after the Resolution and Adventure called at Madeira to restock on their outward journey.
Cook was anxious to move on, after the ship took on fresh water, beef, wine, fruit and 1,000 bunches of onions, which were thought to help combat scurvy.
Hodges did not, it seems, go ashore, but the expedition’s naturalist, Johann Forster, wrote enthusiastically of the island’s luxuriant vegetation and beauty.
After the voyage, Hodges was keen to make his mark in London and the painting was one of the several exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1777.
It is imaginative in composition rather than strictly topographical, and depicts the island in peaceful idyllic fashion, in a manner designed to appeal to a London audience.
He uses however the same dramatic colours and light effects that mark his paintings of the Pacific.