Martin Gayford

Lost in the Pacific

Though many of the objects are marvellous, intellectual clarity is lacking in this Royal Academy exhibition

At six in the morning of 20 July 1888, Robert Louis Stevenson first set eyes on a Pacific Island. As the sun rose, the land ‘heaved up in peaks and rising vales’. The colours of the scene ‘ran through fifty modulations in a scale of pearl and rose and olive’, rising into ‘opalescent clouds’.

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