Breadfruit Boy. Hawaii, ca. 1939. Aquatint, etching. 14 x 10 in. (35.56 x 25.40 cm.). Archivally framed in superb premium Koa wood frame, ready to hang.
A young and lithe Polynesian man reaches up into the boughs of a breadfruit tree to pick one of its fruits; additional foliage and a small pig appear at his feet.
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Born in Oakland, CA on Nov. 2, 1879, John Kelly began his art studies at the Mark Hopkins Institute and Partington Art School. He worked for 14 years as an illustrator for the San Francisco Examiner before he and his wife, sculptor Kate Kelly, moved to Hawaii in 1923. The original plan was to stay for a year, but they fell in love with the islands and the people and stayed. Kelly produced numerous etchings and aquatints with Hawaii as a subject, primarily of human figures. He authored and illustrated “Etchings and Drawings of Hawaiians” in 1943, and “The Hula as Seen in Hawaii” in 1955. John Melville Kelly died in Honolulu in 1962.