Early Art of Hawaii
Here in our Early Art of Hawaii gallery, our greatest artists, post-contact up through the 19th century!
Pai na lima, ae na waha. – The hands strike, the mouths assent. (A solemn promise.)
Edward Bailey • Louis Choris • Edward Clifford • Robert Dampier • Stanislaus Darondeau • Gideon Jacques Denny • Ejler Jorgensen •Ambrose Patterson • Enoch Wood Perry, Jr. • James Guy Sawkins • Alexander Scott • Eduardo Scovell • Joseph Dwight Strong • George Stratemeyer • Jules Tavernier • Lionel Walden • John Webber
Edward Bailey (1814–1903) was a prominent artist of the Hawaiian missionary period in Hawaii. He arrived in Hawaii as a missionary-teacher in 1837 on board Mary Frazier, and worked at the Wailuku Female Seminary in Maui from 1840 until it closed in 1849. After that, he helped build Ka’ahumanu Church, which still stands today in Wailuku, and worked a small sugarcane plantation that was later acquired by Wailuku Sugar Company. His early works are sketches and drawings by students at the Lahainaluna Seminary. With no formal instruction, he began painting at the age of 51.
Bailey’s favorite paintings depict the natural beauty of central Maui. The Bailey House Museum in Wailuku and the Lyman House Memorial Museum in Hilo house the largest public collections of Bailey’s paintings.
“Canoes at Diamond Head” (1890)
Louis Choris was born in 1795 to German-Russian parents living in the Russian Empire. At age 21, he journeyed to the Siberia Pacific coast and then to the west coast of North America. He served as the Romanzoff expedition’s artist aboard the Russian expeditionary ship Rurik, which was chartered by the Russian government to search for a northwest passage.
It is said that Choris “painted nature as he found it. The essence of his art is truth; a fresh, vigorous view of life, and an originality in portrayal.” His illustrations from the Romanzoff expedition faithfully represented their subjects. After the voyage, Choris went to Paris where he produced a portfolio of lithographs while studying in the art studios of Gerard and Regnault. Choris painted many pastels, some of which portrayed the Ohlone people who inhabited the mission of San Francisco in 1816. After returning to France to live for the next ten years, Choris traveled to South America, where he was killed by bandits on March 22, 1828 while on his way to Vera Cruz, Mexico.
Public collections of Choris’ works are presently held by the Anchorage Museum of History and Art, the Honolulu Museum of Art, and the Oakland Museum of California.
“Woman of the Sandwich Islands”
“A Temple in the Sandwich Islands”
“Tattoos, Designs, and Grass Houses”
“Men of the Sandwich Islands, Dancing”
“Kamehameha, King of the Sandwich Islands”
“Port of Honolulu”
“Vue du porte hanarourou”
“Weapons and Utensils from the Sandwich Islands”
Edward Clifford (1844–1907) was an English artist best known for his watercolor portraits associated with the Aesthetic Movement in late 19th-century England. He served as honorary Secretary of the Church Army, which proselytized for the Church of England. Clifford visited India and Kashmir to learn about methods of controlling leprosy, and traveled to Honolulu and visited the leper colony at Kalaupapa on the island of Moloka’i in 1888. There he met Father Damien, whose name became widely recognized in the fight against leprosy (he eventually died of it himself). After returning to England, Clifford made watercolor portraits from sketches he made in Hawaii, and later published an account of his journey.
Public collections of the works of Edward Clifford are held by the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, the Harvard University Portrait Collection, the Honolulu Museum of Art, the National Portrait Gallery in London, and the National Portrait Gallery in the United States.
“Diamond Head, Honolulu” (1888)
Robert Dampier was a British artist and clergyman. He was born in 1799 in the village of Codford St Peter in Wiltshire, England, one of 13 children. In 1819, he went to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil as a clerk, and was hired in Rio to serve as the expedition artist on the English ship HMS Blonde. The ship was chartered by the Hawaiian government to return the bodies of King Kamehameha II and Queen Kamāmalu to Hawai’i, as both the king and the queen had died from measles during a visit to England. Upon arriving in Honolulu, he spent several months producing paintings and pencil drawings of Hawaiian landscapes.
Dampier’s major works are held by the Honolulu Museum of Art, and also by the Washington Place in Honolulu.
“Portrait of King Kamehameha III of Hawaii”
“Karaipapa, A Native of the Sandwich islands”
Stanislas-Henri-Benoit Darondeau (4 April 1807 – 12 July 1842) was a French painter, draftsman and engineer who was born in Paris in 1807. The musician Henry Darondeau was his father and Benoît Darondeau one of his brothers. He exhibited in the Salon de Paris between 1827 and 1841. His painting reflects the Orientalist movement of great interest in the Near East. He circumnavigated the globe between February 1836 and November 1837 under Auguste Nicolas Vaillant (1793–1858), producing many illustrations of French Polynesia and Hawaii. In 1841-42, he participated in an African expedition under Captain Louis Édouard Bouët-Willaumez aboard the Nisus. Darondeau died in Brest, France in 1841.
The Honolulu Museum of Art and Musée des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux are among the public collections holding works by Stanislas-Henri-Benoit Darondeau.
“View of the Place Where Captain Cook Was Killed”
“A View Near Honolulu”
“Ka’awaloa Village and Point, Karakakoa Bay”
“Monument Erected in Memory of Cook”
“The Pacific in the Wake of Captain Cook
Gideon Jacques Denny
Gideon Jacques Denny (1830–1886) was born in Delaware. As a young man, he worked on ships in the Chesapeake Bay, and in 1849 he journeyed to California to try his luck in the Gold Rush. Failing that, he worked on the San Francisco docks for two years. He then moved to Milwaukee, where he studied painting, many of seascapes. After six years of study in Milwaukee, Denny returned to San Francisco, where he established a studio. In 1868, he spent two months in Hawai’i. He is also known to have visited Canada and South America. Denny died of malaria in California in 1886.
Public collections of the works by Gideon Jacques Denny are held by the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, the Bishop Museum (Honolulu), the Crocker Art Museum (Sacramento, California), the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Monterey Peninsula Museum of Art, and the Oakland Museum of California.
“Diamond Head from Waikiki” (1882)
Ejler Jorgensen (1838-1876) was a Danish-American landscape and portrait painter. He became a student at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen in 1860. He moved to the United States in 1873, and painted actively in San Francisco in the 1870s, and then in Hawaii in 1875. He died in California in 1876.
The Honolulu Museum of Art holds work by Ejler Andreas Jorgensen.
“View of Honolulu from Punchbowl” (1875)
“Honolulou Looking to Diamond Head” (c. 1851)
Created by the wife of a whaling captain about 1855 • Connecticut Historical Society
Ambrose Patterson was born in Daylesford, Victoria. He studied at the Melbourne Art School and the National Gallery Art School in Melbourne and later in Paris. He became widely in the Paris arts scene with his exhibits at the first Salon d’Automne exhibitions. He had five paintings exhibited at the 1905 Paris Salon, at which Henri Matisse and the fauves movement stunned the art world.
He arrived in Hawaii in 1916 on route from Sydney to New York, and ended up staying for the next 18 months with a Parisian friend living in Honolulu. Patterson made block prints and paintings with a particular interest in the eruptions of Kilauea. He left for California in 1918, where his wood block prints were regarded as “especially fine in color.”
By 1918, Patterson moved to Seattle to work as a freelance artist. He became regarded as the first modern artist in that city, featured in many exhibitions throughout Washington State. He died in Seattle in 1966, leaving behind an impressive record of awards received and exhibitions across the United States.
Public collections of the works of Ambrose McCarthy Patterson are held by the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Honolulu Museum of Art, the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Seattle Art Museum and the Tacoma Art.
“Coconut Palms, Honolulu” (1877)
Enoch Wood Perry, Jr.
Enoch Wood Perry was born in Boston in 1831, and moved to New Orleans with his family as a teenager in 1848 and attended its public schools. After working several years as a clerk in a commission house, Perry began formal art education. In 1852, he began four years of study at in Düsseldorf, Paris, and in Rome. Perry served as American consul to Venice from 1856 to 1858, and upon returning to America, he opened a studio in Philadelphia.
Just before the outbreak of the American Civil War, Perry moved back to New Orleans and opened a studio. He painted a portrait of Senator John Slidell and a picture of the signing of the Ordinance of Secession of Louisiana. He also painted a portrait of Jefferson Davis standing before a map of the Confederate States of America. This was raffled off at a fair to benefit the cause of the Confederacy.
He traveled to northern California’s Yosemite Valley, where he spent several years sketching and painting its spectacular landscape with Albert Bierstadt. Around 1864, Perry sailed to Honolulu, where he would paint the natural wonders of the islands. His work included posthumous portraits of King Kamehameha IV and his young son Kauikeaouli, as well as landscapes of the various islands he visited. A later portrait of Brigham Young was altered to remove a spittoon and a ring with freemasonry symbols. Perry died at his home in New York City in 1915.
Public collections of the works of Perry are held by the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover, Massachusetts, the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, Hawaii, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the Honolulu Museum of Art, the Louisiana State Museum in New Orleans and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
“Diamond Head from Waikiki ” (c. 1865)
“Manoa Valley from Waikiki”
James Gay Sawkins
James Gay Sawkins was born in 1806 in Somerset, England. He moved at an early age with his family to Baltimore, Maryland with his family, and supported himself by painting miniature portraits on ivory. He lived in Cuba from 1835 to 1845 and visited Hawai’i from 1850 to 1852. After working in Australia for a few years, he returned to England in 1855. Sawkins died in 1878 in Turnham Green, England.
The Honolulu Museum of Art, the Mission House Museum in Honolulu, and the National Library of Australia (Canberra) hold public collections of the works of James Gay Sawkins.
A pictorial tour of Hawaii 1850-1853
Kailua-Kona, Hulihee Palace
Alexander Scott (1854–1925) was a British landscape painter who lived in Hawaii from 1906 until 1908. He spent a number of years living in Darjeeling, India, and painted a wide range of subjects throughout his travels. These works include portraits and paintings of the Himalayas, the Taj Mahal, and the Sanchi Tope. While in India, Scott befriended the Director-General of Archaeology in India, Sir John Marshall. Scott painted while staying at Marshall’s camp in Taxila, where he was exposed to tribal fighting. He also spent time in Gandhara, Sanchi, Bhopal, the ancient city of Mattra, and later Tibet, visiting excavation sites to paint and search for objects to buy for a museum. Alexander Scott died in 1925.
“Diamond Head from Tantalus” (c. 1906-08)
Eduardo Lefebvre Scovell (1864–1918) was a British artist. He became prominent in the Volcano School, a group of artists who painted dramatic night-time scenes of Kilauea’s ongoing eruptions. After completing his education at Eton College and Cambridge, Scovell went to study art in Paris. He traveled extensively, spending a year in Rome and Florence before continuing his travels for several years more in India, China, Japan, and Brazil. He spent eight years in Hawaii painting volcano scenes. Scovell was in San Francisco at the time of the earthquake and fire of 1906, and he then settled in Los Angeles, where he lived until his death in 1918.
Scovell’s painting “Kilauea” hangs in the Bernice P. Bishop Museum in Honolulu.
Joseph Dwight Strong
Joseph Dwight Strong was born in 1853 in Connecticut. He spent several of his childhood years in Honolulu before moving with his family to Oakland, California in 1859. He enrolled at the California School of Design, and demonstrated such promise that friends and supporters in California raised the funds to send Strong to Munich for further. He was also an early photographer, with various photos of Berkeley to his name. Upon his return to San Francisco, he became quite popular as a portrait painter. In 1879 he married Isobel Osbourne, the step-daughter of the writer Robert Louis Stevenson. In his story “The Silverado Squatters”, Stevenson described Joseph as “a great omelet maker.”
Strong and his wife traveled to Hawaii in 1882, where they lived for several years. In 1886, King David Kalākaua appointed Strong governmental artist on an expedition to Samoa aboard the Kaimiloa. While in Hawaii, Stevenson invited Strong to go island-hopping with him in the South Pacific, and his wife and young son stayed in Australia during his travels with Stevenson. Stevenson and his wife settled in Samoa, and Strong and his wife joined them there in 1891. Strong had an affair with a Samoan girl, which led to his divorce from Isobel and his alienation from Stevenson, and to Strong’s son Austin being adopted by Stevenson. Their relationship become so acrimonious that many of the diaries and letters which Stevenson and his family published after the divorce were altered to remove all reference to Joseph Strong, and photographs of Strong with the Stevensons were destroyed or altered. In 1895, Strong returned to San Francisco, where he died on April 5, 1899.
The Honolulu Museum of Art, the Oakland Museum of California, and the Peabody Essex Museum (Salem, Massachusetts) are among the public collections holding work by Joseph Dwight Strong.
“Hawaiians at Rest, Waikiki” (c. 1884)
“Hawaiian Fisherman near Diamond Head” (1895)
“Lava Flow” (1888)
“Japanese Laborers on the Sugar Plantation in Spreckelsville, Maui” (1885)
“Canoes at Waikiki”
“Launching the Canoe”
“Waikiki Beach, (Diamond Head), Oahu, Hawaii” (1895)
Jules Tavernier (1844-1889) was a French painter and illustrator, and a prominent member of Hawaii’s Volcano School. He studied with the French painter Félix Joseph Barrias, but left France in the 1870s, never to return. Tavernier was employed as an illustrator by Harper’s Magazine, which sent him on a nation-wide sketching tour in 1873. Soon after he arrived in San Francisco in the summer of 1874, he founded an art colony on the Monterey Peninsula. Eventually, he continued on to Hawaii, where he became widely regarded as a landscape painter. He was fascinated by Hawaii’s erupting volcanoes, which would pre-occupy him for the rest of his life. Tavernier died in 1889 in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Among the public collections holding paintings by Jules Tavernier are the Brigham Young University Museum of Art (Provo, UT), Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center (Colorado Springs, CO), Crocker Art Museum (Sacramento), Gilcrease Museum (Tulsa, OK), Hearst Art Gallery (Saint Mary’s College of California, Moraga, CA), and the Honolulu Museum of Art.
“Sunrise Over Diamond Head” (1888)
“Kilauea Fire Fountain”
Lionel Walden (1862-1933) was an American artist who painted in Hawaii, Cornwall, and France. He first became interested in art in Minnesota, where the family moved when his father Treadwell became rector of an Episcopal Church there. As a young man, Walden moved to Paris, where he studied painting with Carolus-Duran. In around 1893–97, Walden was in England, living in Falmouth. Paintings of Cardiff in Wales are in museums in Cardiff, Paris, and Abu Dhabi. Walden received medals from the Paris Salon and was made a Knight of the French Legion of Honor. He visited Hawaii in 1911 and several times thereafter, where he was regarded as “the finest seascape painter to work in Hawaii”. Walden died in Chantilly, France in 1933.
Public collections of works by Lionel Walden include those at the Brooklyn Museum, the Henry Art Gallery (Seattle), the Honolulu Museum of Art, the Isaacs Art Center (Waimea, Hawaii), the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Quimper, and the Musée d’Orsay.
“Diamond Head and Waikiki Beach” (1918)
“Quiet Sea Coming to Hawaiian Shore”
“The Torchlight Fisherman” (1920)
“Hawaiian Seascape” (1928)
“Kaua’i Beach” (1915)
“Halemaumau Crater” (1915)
Twilight, Evening Star, Crescent Moon
John Webber (1751-1793) was an English artist who is best known for his images of Australia, Hawaii and Alaska. He accompanied Captain Cook on his third expedition into the Pacific, where he served as official artist on Cook’s voyage aboard HMS Resolution. On this voyage, during which Cook was killed at Kealakekua Bay in Hawai’i, Webber became the first European artist to make contact with Hawai’i. In Australia, he produced drawings of “A Man of Van Diemen’s Land” and “A Woman of Van Diemen’s Land”, along with many drawings of scenes in New Zealand and the South Pacific islands, numerous watercolor landscapes of the islands of Kauai and Hawaii, and portraits of the Hawaiian people. In April 1778, Captain Cook’s ships Resolution and Discovery put in at Nootka Sound on Vancouver Island, Canada to refit. The crew took observations and recorded encounters with the local people. Webber made watercolor landscapes including “Resolution and Discovery in Ship Cove, 1778”. His drawings and paintings were engraved for the British Admiralty’s account of the expedition.
Back in England in 1780 Webber exhibited some 50 works at Royal Academy exhibitions, and was made an associate of the Royal Academy in 1785. Most of his works were landscapes, but sometimes figures were included, as in “A Party from H.M.S. Resolution shooting sea horses” and his “The Death of Captain Cook”, made famous by an engraving of it.
The Anchorage Museum of History and Art (Alaska), the Bishop Museum (Honolulu), the Honolulu Museum of Art are among the public collections holding works by John Webber.
“An Inland View, In Atooi”
“An Inland View, in Atooi”
“An Offering Before Captain Cook in the Sandwich Islands”
“Canoe of the Sandwich Islands, the Rowers Masked” (1778)
“Canoe of the Sandwich Islands, the Rowers Masked”
“Tereoboo, King of Owyhee, Bringing Presents to Capt. Cook”
“The Death of Captain Cook” (1785)
Don’t miss our on Hawaii’s Modern Art!
P.S. If you have a taste for history, we invite you to our companion site WisdomMaps.info. It’s history as you’ve never seen it!