Kanani (Hawaii)

John Melville Kelly

John Melville Kelly, "Kanani (Hawaii)', drypoint, 1946, edition unknown. Signed, titled, and annotated 'No 36' in pencil. A fine, richly-inked impression, in dark brown ink, on heavy, cream wove paper, with wide margins (2 3/4 to 3 3/4 inches); in excellent condition.

Born in Phoenix, Arizona, in 1878, John Melville Kelly and his wife, Katherine, a sculptor, went to Hawaii in 1923, for what they thought would be a year, to work with an advertising firm producing tourist promotional material.

Kelly had an adventuresome career that included prizefighting and fourteen years of experience as a staff artist for the "San Francisco Examiner". The Kellys immediately identified with the native Hawaiians and became their champions in images and print. Kelly was a master draftsman, whose etchings and aquatints include ravishing depictions of Polynesians. Although generally thought of as an artist of the human figure, Kelly also produced many beautiful images of the land.

"The best way of summing up the spring within the spring that made John Kelly labor relentlessly, and that raised him to etching eminence, is to quote from... John M. Kelly Jr, "of all the things a man may love, his work, wife, family, country and fellow man, none can be truly his unless he loves life itself." —Jean Charlot

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11 3/8 x 8 7/8 inches