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Matteo Sandona & Hawai'i
A Capital Ambition

By Duccio K. Marignoli & Marzia Ratti
December 2007
Silvana Editoriale
Distributed By Trans-Atlantic Publications
96 Pages, Illustrated. 9 x 11"
$67.50 Paper

Matteo Sandona (Schio, Italy 1881 -- Santa Clara 1964) was a San Francisco-based artist who specialized in portraiture. His recurrent trips to Hawai'i, from 1903 to the Second World War, allowed him to give the most complete visual record of the Hawaiian society of that time in a splendid series of portraits that span personages from Prince and Princess Kawananakoa to Mrs. Anna Rice Cooke, founder of the Honolulu Academy of Arts.

Sandona's training in Verona had prepared him to fulfil the needs of his sitters who were informed on portraiture styles as the history of Hawai'i had a lively tradition of ordering painted likenesses. His youthful ambition reflected the equally ambitious sense of identity of these islands. His ties became so strong that he would marry Gertrude Macfarlane, who belonged to an old island family.

The generation which the italian artists painted was, after all, the last to be able to remember Hawai'i as an independent nation, and thus, we can call Matteo Sandona the last portrait artist of Hawai'i.

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