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12 September 2019The Cult of Celebrity: Omai, The Exotic and Joshua Reynolds
10 October 2019Roman to Roses: A History of Italian Gardens
14 November 2019Cultural Experiments of The Weimar Republic
12 December 2019The Art of Christmas

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The Cult of Celebrity: Omai, The Exotic and Joshua Reynolds Leslie Primo Thursday 12 September 2019

Joshua Reynold ‘s  portrait of Omai became an emblematic and iconic image representing Britain at the very height of its imperial powers. This lecture will explore when two worlds collided, Omai’s origins in Tahiti, and his motivation to come to England and English society, and his interaction therein.

 A look at what this portrait can tell us about 18th century English society, its perception or preconception of “Others” or non-white Europeans. Finally it considers the legacy of the image we call Omai, which has become an enigma in its own right.   

Reading list available (please see the Programme Secretary)


Leslie Primo studied Art History and Renaissance Studies at Birkbeck College, University of London. He has been visiting Lecturer in Art History at Reading University. He now gives lectures at The City Literary Institute, plus special talks and guided tours at both the National Gallery, and the National Portrait Gallery.  He has presented a series of talks at the National Maritime Museum and the Courtauld  Institute.