River of Lava Issuing From Mauna Loa, Hawaii

River of Lava Issuing from Mauna Loa and Flowing a Distance of About Thirty Miles to Hilo Across the Island of Hawaii, 1880-1881
Charles Furneaux (1835-1913)
Oil on Board
BORGM 00785
Image © Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum

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River of Lava Issuing from Mauna Loa and Flowing a Distance of About Thirty Miles to Hilo Across the Island of Hawaii

This painting dates to Charles Furneaux’s first visit to the Islands of Hawai’i, which he visited to study the lava flows of Mauna Loa with William Brigham in 1880. Erupting for at least 700,000 years, Mauna Loa is the largest active volcano on Earth. Vividly painted with bold colouring, this work must be among the artist’s earliest impressions of molten lava.

Sir Merton Russell-Cotes purchased this painting and another by the artist during his visit to Hawai’i in July 1885.

Charles Furneaux was born in Boston and became a drawing instructor in that area. At the age of 45, he travelled to Hawai’i where he was immediately struck by the grandeur of the volcanoes and made numerous sketches on site of lava flows and eruptions. Furneaux decided to remain in the state and his success garnered him commissions from King Kalākaua (1836-1891).

He received the Royal Order of Kapiʻolani award for advancing Hawaiian art just five years after arriving to Hawai’i. Furthermore, merely one year after taking residence, Furneaux held the first solo exhibition in Hawai’i, along with the first printed companion catalogue.

 

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