The Warrior, the Voyager, and the Artist Three Lives in an Age of Empire Kate Fullagar

The Lewis Walpole Series in Eighteenth-Century Culture and History
Publication date:
11 Feb 2020
Yale University Press
320 pages: 235 x 156 x 27mm
33 b-w illus.
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A portrait of empire through the biographies of a Native American, a Pacific Islander, and the British artist who painted them both
Three interconnected eighteenth-century lives offer a fresh account of the British empire and its intrusion into Indigenous societies. This engaging history brings together the stories of Joshua Reynolds and two Indigenous men, the Cherokee Ostenaco and the Ra‘iatean Mai. Fullagar uncovers the life of Ostenaco, tracing his emergence as a warrior, his engagement with colonists through war and peace, and his eventual rejection of imperial politics during the American Revolution. She delves into the story of Mai, examining his confrontation with conquest and displacement, his voyage to London on Cook’s imperial expedition, and his return home with a burning ambition to right past wrongs. Woven throughout is a new history of Reynolds—growing up in Devon near a key port in England, becoming a portraitist of empire, rising to the top of Britain’s art world, and yet remaining ambivalent about his nation’s expansionist trajectory.

Kate Fullagar is an associate professor of Modern History at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. She is the author of The Savage Visit, the editor of The Atlantic World in the Antipodes, and co‑editor of Facing Empire.

“Imaginatively conceived and engagingly written”—Nicholas Thomas, Inside Story [Australia]

“[A] fascinating mix of art history focussing on the development of “universal man” portraiture with the rise of Joshua Reynolds, an exploration of competing political positions on the idea of empire, comparisons of society and the evolving awareness and importance of the individual in eighteenth century English, Polynesian and Native American culture”—Margaret Cassidy, Journal of the Oceanic Art Society

Winner of the 2020 General History Prize, sponsored by The State Library of New South Wales

Winner of the Douglas Stewart Prize for Non-fiction, sponsored by the New South Wales State Library

Shortlisted for the James Tait Black Prize- biography category, sponsored by The University of Edinburgh

“Deftly combining indigenous studies, postcolonial perspectives, cultural history, and visual studies, Kate Fullagar produces a new portrait of Georgian Britain that is both surprising and entirely convincing.”—Douglas Fordham, University of Virginia

 “Spanning three land masses and two oceans, The Warrior, the Voyager, and the Artist exemplifies the very best of the new biography, and is a must read for anyone interested in the cultural history of the British Empire.”— Eliga Gould, author of the Among the Powers of the Earth:  The American Revolution and the Making of a New World Empire

“Kate Fullagar peers into the soul of the eighteenth century, discovering the shared human challenges that connected three very different men, three faces of the whirling gyre of the British empire. As deep and luminous as a Reynolds portrait, and as wide and wondrous as the Pacific, The Warrior, the Voyager, and the Artist will astonish.”— Jane Kamensky, author of A Revolution in Color: The World of John Singleton Copley

“A deftly-told story of three inter-connected but very different lives that challenges many of the clichés about the history of the British empire. Fullagar’s account is subtle, persuasive and humane.”—John Brewer, California Institute of Technology

“Fullagar does for biography what Reynolds wanted to do for portraiture—have it speak with the authority and humanity of history. But where he failed, Fullagar brilliantly succeeds.”—Peter Brunt, Victoria University of Wellington