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Omai became the toast of English society when he arrived in England from Ulaietea (now Raiatea) in the late 18th century. The full-length portrait was acquired by the 5th Earl of Carlisle in the 1790s and had hung in the Reynolds room at Castle Howard ever since.

Sold on behalf of Trustees of the Will of Lord Howard of Henderskelfe, the picture was sold to St James’s dealer Guy Morrison.