Easter Island and was unknown to Europeans until the 1722 visit by a Dutch navigator Jacob Roggeveen. In his journal he briefly notes “remarkable, tall, stone figures, a good 30 feet in height”.
The second to visit, in 1770, were two Spanish ships under command of Felipe González de Ahedo. One of the maps they compiled contains probably the earliest depiction of the moai statues, albeit a very schematic one:
In 1774, the island was rediscovered during the second voyage of Captain James Cook. One of the expedition’s artists was William Hodges, who produced this famous landscape:
In 1786, French explorer Jean François de Galaup La Pérouse reached the island, made a detailed map and wonderingly measured the statues. His artist, Gaspard Duché de Vancy, faced with a task to record such strange images, clearly failed:
This never fails to amuse me. Newsflash: Rapanui are Caucasian!
- W. Hodges, A View of the Monuments of Easter Island, Rapanui. 1775.
- G. Duché de Vancy, Islanders and Monuments of Easter Island, plate 11 from Atlas du voyage de La Pérouse, Paris, 1785-88.