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A Man and Two Women from Palau

Photo credit: The Trustees of the British Museum

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In 1790 Captain John McCluer, on a surveying voyage for the East India Company, visited Palau (Pelew,) a group of islands at the western end of the Carolines. In 1791 he was accompanied on his voyage to Macao by three inhabitants: a ‘Prince’ and two women. His logbook records 'The famous painter Spoilem came down to Macao [from Canton] at my request; his terms, was to be ensured 50 dollars for his trip. This sum I gave him for a picture of myself and the three Palou people in a group… Mr Harrison and several of the Gentlemen had a copy of the three people'. Spoilum, of whom little is known, unusually for a Chinese artist produced accomplished portraits of westerners in oil on canvas. It is not known how the Museum acquired this copy but it also possesses a pencil drawing of the group which is inscribed in pencil 'Blackmore Museum, Salisbury.

British Museum





oil on canvas

Accession number


Acquisition method

unknown acquisition method

Work type



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