The Crater of Kilauea, Island of Hawaii

The Crater of Kilauea, Island of Hawaii, 1885
Jules Tavernier (1844-1889)
Oil on canvas
BORGM 02088
Image © Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum

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The Crater of Kilauea, Island of Hawaii

This artwork was painted on the spot for Sir Merton and Lady Russell-Cotes during their visit to Hawaii. In his biography Merton recalled that: “whilst sojourning in Honolulu, my wife and I met two French artists, Jules Taverniers and Chas. Ferneaux. Jules Taverniers was a Knight of the Legion of Honour and a remarkably clever artist. He was travelling like ourselves for health and pleasure. On our trip to Hawaii to explore the great volcano of Kilauea he, at our invitation, accompanied us as our guest, and I commissioned him to paint the picture which is now in the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery of the interior of Kilauea”.

Jules Taverniers painted the crater of Kilauea in Hawaii ‘on the spot’. It is painted in a fluid style, characteristic of the work of early nineteenth-century French plein-air artists. Taverniers used a long narrow canvas to capture this scene which he dramatically composed with a bold repoussoir element in the left foreground. Contrasted against this is the expansive landscape that opens out to the right, revealing the magisterial volcano’s incandescent, cracked crust and craters beneath a luminous sky, veiled by billowing smoke-tinged pink by evening light.

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