Kamehameha III, Robert Dampier

Robert Dampier (British, 1800–1874)

Kamehameha III, 1825

Oil on canvas

Gift of Eliza Lefferts Cooke, Charles M. Cooke III, and Carolene Alexander Cooke Wrenn in memory of Dr. C. Montague Cooke, Jr., 1951 (1066.1)

Robert Dampier was the official artist on the voyage HMS Blonde, which sailed to Hawai'i in 1825 with the bodies of king Kamehameha II and his queen Kamāmalu, who died in England after contracting measles. In Hawai'i, Dampier painted the younger brother and sister of Kamehameha II: Kamehameha III and Nāhi'ena'ena. Posed as the monarch he was destined to become, young Kamehameha stands regally in a verdant setting, the small settlement of Honolulu Fort just visible beyond the banana trees that frame him. Holding a spear, he is draped in a traditional feather garment, which conceals the Western-style clothing that he actually wore and which the royal family preferred. Kamehameha III reigned from 1825 to 1854, during which time he oversaw Hawai‘i’s transition from a feudal society to a constitutional monarchy.

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