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Hawaii Artist Archives at the University of Hawaii Library

The Archive of Hawaii Artists grew out of the Library's preeiminent artist archive, the Jean Charlot Collection.

Collection Summary

The John Melville Kelly Collection is a selection of the artist's prints gifted by his heirs for educational study. There are over 100 examples in a variety of fine art printmaking techniques from drypoint to aquatint, which are listed in the lower right column. Also included are a few original drawings.

Biographical Note

John Melville Kelly (1878-1962) was born in Arizona and his early life included prize fighting. He studied at the Partington Art School in San Francisco where he met his wife Katherine “Kate” (1882-1964), a sculptor and printmaker. They were married in 1908.

After being a staff artist for the San Francisco Examiner for 14 years, Kelly came to Hawaii in 1923 to work with an advertising firm for a year. He and his wife decided to stay after developing a strong connection to the islands.

Kate Kelly took an etching class from Huc Luquiens at the University of Hawaii and taught her husband the basics of etching on copper plates. He expanded his printmaking repertoire to include drypoint and aquatint. His techniques included meticulous craftsmanship, complex color registration and controlled aquatint gradations. He was a prolific artist and shared his knowledge with others.

Kelly was a master draftsman and produced etchings and aquatints depicting Polynesians and beautiful images of the landscape. He played a key role in creating the idyllic image of Hawaii prevalent in the 1930s and 1940s. In his work, he used people he knew as models and captured romanticized island lifestyles. His art is testimony to his deep appreciation to the culture and people of Hawaii from the 1930s through the 1950s. He is also known for his menu covers, commissioned by the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in the early days of tourism in the Territory.

Because Kate Kelly’s eyesight was failing, she gave up her art career in the mid-1930s and devoted herself to promoting her husband’s career by skillfully marketing his work. Part of that was selling his work in Waikiki and sometimes bringing buyers back to the Kelly home at Black Point.

Along with others, Kelly was a founding member of the Honolulu Printmakers in 1928. The organization honored him in 1934 and 1953 by selecting him to create the member gift print that accompanies their annual exhibition.

His works are in the collections of the National Galleries, the Fogg Museum, the New York Public Library, the Nelson-Atkins Museum, San Diego Museum of Art, the Hawaii State Art Museum and others. An extensive collection is in the Honolulu Museum of Art which has held two significant Kelly exhibitions. One was in 1962 to commemorate his life and work. The other was in 2005, a retrospective of over 250 etchings, his printing press and tools, and a video presentation.

John M. Kelly Collection

Abdul Baha
Dry point
25 x 20 cm. vertical format
Titled and signed by the artist with embossed seal
Description: Portrait
JCC.JMK:144-03

Abdul Baha
Dry point
25 x 20 cm. vertical format
Not titled nor signed
Description: Early state of JCC.JMK:144-03
JCC.JMK:144-06

'Au'au Pau Hawai'i
Dry point on colored ground
45.5 x 28 cm. vertical format
Signed with seal
JCC.JMK:106B-04

Back of Diamond Head
Dry point
16.4 x 15.4 cm. horizontal format
Signed with seal # no. 13
JCC.JMK:63-02

Bird of Paradise Hawai'i
Etched line with sepia ink
38.1 x 30.5 cm. vertical format
Signed with seal
JCC.JMK:85A-07

Black Point
Etching
20.1 x 25.2 cm. horizontal format
Signed with seal # no. 6
JCC.JMK:22-05

Breadfruit Boy Hawai'i
Color aquatint
37.3 x 24.5 cm. vertical format
Signed with seal
Description: Full length profile of a male facing left, picking breadfruit, small pig standing at his feet
JCC.JMK:122-07

California Redwoods
Etching
32.9 x 24.9 cm. vertical format
Signed with seal
Description: Trees with figure on a donkey
JCC.JMK:114-03

Dancing Girl
Dry point on thin paper
37 x 30 cm. vertical format
Titled and signed by the artist in pencil with embossed seal
JCC.JMK:139-01

Ekela Hawai'i
Dry point
12.2 x 8.9 cm. vertical format
Signed with seal
JCC.JMK:10-03

Fairy and Phoenix, after Wu Wei
Aquatint
45.3 x 27.6 cm. vertical format
Signed with seal
JCC.JMK:87B-08

Frederick O'Brien White Shadows
Aquatint
25.1 x 20.2 cm. vertical format
Signed # no. 3 left margin
JCC.JMK:25-02

Gill Net Hawai'i
Dry Point
23.6 x 27.8 cm. horizontal format
Signed with seal # no. 1 on paper margin
JCC.JMK:70-03

Grass Skirt Hawai'i
Intaglio on colored ground
29.5 x 26 cm. vertical format
Signed with seal
JCC.JMK:2.05

Hawaiian Decoration
Aquatint
37.9 x 30.3 cm. vertical format
Signed with seal
JCC.JMK:84-01

Hawaiian Decoration
Aquatint
38 x 30.3 cm. vertical format
Signed
Description: Female with pareu, semi nude, brushing her hair
JCC.JMK:116-02

Hawaiian Fantasy
Intaglio on colored ground
29.5 x 26 cm. vertical format
Signed with seal
JCC.JMK:2.07

Hawaiian Soldier
Aquatint
33.5 x 26.5 cm. vertical format
Signed with seal
Description: Portrait of a Hawaiian soldier
JCC.JMK:112-07

Ho'o Nanea Hawai'i
Intaglio with colored ground
26.4 x 42.3 horizontal format
signed with seal
JCC.JMK:104.05

Huki Hawai'i
Dry point
20.3 x 25.2 cm. horizontal format
Signed with seal # no. 15 on paper margin
JCC.JMK:64-04

Hula Skirt
Intaglio
35.1 x 26 cm. vertical format
JCC.JMK:1A-04

Hula Skirt Hawai'i
Intaglio
31.8 x 26 cm. vertical format
Signed with seal # no. 2
JCC.JMK:1C-09

Island Maiden Hawai'i
Dry point
12.5 x 10.2 cm. vertical format
Signed with seal
JCC.JMK:9-01

Japanese Girl
Intaglio
12.2 x 10.6 cm. vertical format
Signed with seal # no. 6
JCC.JMK:30-01

Kaipo Hawai'i
Dry point
24 x 20.2 cm. vertical format
Signed with seal # no. 31
JCC.JMK:21-02

Kalua
Dry point
14.4 x 11.5 cm. vertical format on taupe paper
Signed with seal # no. 5
JCC.JMK:12-04

Kanani Hawai'i
Dry point
29.1 x 22.6 cm. vertical format on rice paper re-enforced with additional paper backing
Signed with seal # no. 60
JCC.JMK:36-02

Kimo
Dry point
25.2 x 20 cm. vertical format
Signed with seal
JCC.JMK:23-12

Lei Makers Hawai'i
Dry point
14.7 x 32.5 cm. horizontal format
Signed with seal
JCC.JMK:19-01

Lei Sellers Head
Dry point
14.6 x 12.4 cm. vertical format
Signed with seal # no. 5
JCC.JMK:32-05

Leilani Hawai'i
Dry point
25 x 20 cm. vertical format
Signed with seal
JCC.JMK:37-02

Leilani on the Beach Hawai'i
Etching
30.2 x 22.7 cm. vertical format
Signed with seal
JCC.JMK:39-10

Lone Fisherman Hawai'i
Etching
22.6 x 20.3 cm. vertical format
Signed with seal # no. 57 on paper margin
JCC.JMK:74-02

Manuiwa
Aquatint
30.3 x 25.3 cm. vertical format
Signed with seal
JCC.JMK:20-04

Marion Hawai'i
Aquatint
36.4 x 29.9 cm. vertical format
Signed
Description: Seated female, facing right, semi nude, with pareu, large leaves in background
JCC.JMK:118-04

Marjorie Taylor Hawai'i
Aquatint
34.3 x 20.3 cm. vertical format
Signed with seal # no. 1
Description: Full length female figure in profile, arms crossed, long white dress with bandana on her head, breadfruit foliage background
JCC.JMK:126-03

Mat Making
Etching
25.5 x 20.3 cm. vertical format
Signed with seal W.P.A.
JCC.JMK:57-01

Mesquino
Etching
15.2 x 13.7 cm. vertical format
Signed with seal # no. 7
JCC.JMK:52-02

Moi Water Hawai'i
Dry point
25.2 x 20.1 cm. vertical format
Signed with seal
JCC.JMK:73-04

Mokihana Hawai'i
Dry point
29.1 x 22.6 cm. vertical format
Signed with seal # no. 27 at paper margin
JCC.JMK:40-08

Mokihana Hawai'i
Dry point
20.6 x 25.2 cm. horizontal format
Signed with seal # no. 36
Description: Profile as JCC.JMK:40-08, new work of same subject
JCC.JMK:41-02

Mrs. B
Aquatint
19.6 x 14.8 cm. vertical format
Signed with seal # no. 4
JCC.JMK:53-01

Nalu Rough Water Hawai'i
Dry point
25.3 x 30.2 cm. vertical format
Signed with seal # no. 1 trial proof
JCC.JMK:78-02

Nanea Hawai'i
Dry point
23.4 x 30.3 cm. horizontal format
Signed with seal # no. 1 on seal
JCC.JMK:15-01

Nanea Hawai'i
Color aquatint
15.8 x 25.1 cm. horizontal format
Signed with seal # no. 10
Description: Reclining woman facing left supported by her left arm wearing red and wite pareu
JCC.JMK:144-03

Nani
Intaglio
27.3 x 30.4 cm. vertical format
Signed with seal
Description: Profile of girl sitting, facing left, wearing pareau
JCC.JMK:102-02

Net Fisherman Hawai'i
Intaglio
25.3 x 20.2 cm. vertical format
Signed with seal
JCC.JMK:69-08

Nude Hawai'i
Intaglio
19.1 x 15.5 cm. vertical format
Signed with seal # no. 1
JCC.JMK:28-01

Nude Study Hawai'i
Dry point
29.2 x 21.5 cm. on vertical format
Signed with seal
Description: As 24-04, with foreground work
JCC.JMK:24-10

Old Hawai'i
Etching
18.8 x 17.6 cm. horizontal format
Signed with seal
JCC.JMK:58-04

Old Kalama
Dry point
19.2 x 15.7 cm. vertical format
Signed with seal
JCC.JMK:13-05

Old Pali Road
Dry point
17.8 x 22.9 cm. horizontal format
Signed with seal
Description: Landcape, large tree on left, mountains in background
JCC.JMK:7-01

Old Pali Road
Etching
20.2 x 25.3 cm. horizontal format
Signed with seal
Description: Mountain road with trees and foliage on both sides
JCC.JMK:60-02

Palolo Pali Hawai'i
Dry Point
25.2 x 30.3 cm. horizontal format
Signed with seal # no. 4 at paper margin
JCC.JMK:80-01

Roselani Hawai'i
Dry point
20.3 x 25.9 cm. horizontal format
Signed with seal
JCC.JMK:42-01

Sampan Fisherman
Dry point
25.4 x 20.2 cm. vertical format
Signed with seal # no. 72 at paper margin
JCC.JMK:79-04

Sampans in Dry Dock Hawai'i
Intaglio
17.3 x 25.3 cm horizontal format
Signed
JCC.JMK:71-02

Study of Nude Hawai'i
Dry point
29.2 x 21.5 cm. vertical format
Signed with seal # no. 8 at paper margin
JCC.JMK:24-04

Susana and the Elders Hawai'i
Intaglio
25.4 x 17.1 cm. vertical format
Signed with seal
JCC.JMK:44-03

Three Hawaiians
Etching
28.6 x 22.8 cm. vertical format
Signed with seal
JCC.JMK:35-05

Three Hawaiians
Aquatint
28.6 x 22.7 cm. vertical format
Signed with seal
JCC.JMK:35-06

Trial Proof of Two Hawaiians
Aquatint with toned plate
37.7 cm. vertical format
Signed with seal
Description: As JCC.JMK:84-01 and JCC.JMK:84-06
JCC.JMK:84-07

Two Polynesians Hawai'i
Aquatint with toned plate
37.5 x 30.3 cm. vertical format
Signed with seal
JCC:JMK:84-06

Wahine U'i Hawai'i
Dry point
20.4 x 25.3 cm. horizontal format
Signed with seal
JCC.JMK:50-02

Untitled
Dry point
12.7 x 20.2 cm. horizontal format
Signed with seal
Description: Two-story thatched house, lanai with figures
JCC.JMK:4-02

Untitled
Dry point
7.4 x 13.8 cm. horizontal format
Signed with seal
Description: Man holding plow pulled by water buffalo
JCC.JMK:8-02

Untitled
Dry point
21.6 x 14.6 cm. vertical format
Signed with seal
Description: Hawaiian man with hat facing right looking at the horizon
JCC.JMK:14-02

Untitled
Intaglio
20.1 x 15.1 cm. vertical format
Description: Female in kimono with child on back
JCC.JMK:29-01A

Untitled
Intaglio
17.2 x 15.1 cm. vertical format
Signed with seal # no. 8
Description: 3/4 torso, same study as 30-01
JCC.JMK:31.02

Untitled
Etching
25.4 x 20 cm. vertical format
Description: View of arched bridge from left side of river
JCC.JMK:45-01

Untitled
Intaglio
20.3 x 25.3 cm. horizontal format
Description: Man holding fishing net standing on rock ledge overlooking the ocean
JCC.JMK:65-01

Untitled
Aquatint
36.8 x 24.5 cm. vertical format
Not signed
Description: Full length profile of a male facing left picking breadfruit, small pig standing at his feet
JCC.JMK:122-03

Untitled
Dry point
30.3 x 20.6 cm. vertical format
Untitled and unsigned
Description: Portrait of Harry Hayward
JCC.JMK:146-03

Untitled
Dry point
30.4 x 20.6 cm. vertical format
Untitled but signed and #36
Description: Portrait of Edith Rosenwald
JCC.JMK:148-07

Black Holoku Hawaii
Color aquatint
38.1 cm x 26.1 cm vertical formal
Titled and signed by the artist with seal
JCC.JMK 189-06

Holoku Hawaii
Brown aquatint
36 cm x 25.4 cm vertical format
Titled and signed by the artist with seal
JCCJMK 190-09

Hawaiian Head
Color aquatint
36.3 cm x 25.9 cm vertical format
Titled and signed by the artist with seal
JCCJMK 191-05

Adolescence
Color aquatint
45.6 cm x 28.1 cm vertical format
Titled and signed by the artist with seal
JCCJMK 193-01

Lotus-Flower Hawaii
Plastic etching
45.5 cm x 28.1 cm vertical format
Titled and signed by the artist with seal
JCCJMK 195-02

Adolescence Hawaii
Plastic etching
45.6 cm x 28.2 cm vertical format
Titled and signed by the artist with seal
JCCJMF 199-03

Portrait of nude female from the back (green tone)
Aquatint
36.8 cm x 15.2 cm vertical format
Untitled. Signed with seal. Proof
JCCJMK 201-02

Portrait of nude female from the back (brown tone)
Aquatint
36.89 cm x 15.2 cm vertical format
Untitled. Signed by the artist with seal. Proof
JCCJMF 201-03

Portrait of nude female from the back
Drypoint
36.8 cm x 15.2 c. vertical format
Untitled and unsigned with seal
India ink on lower portion of print
JCCJMK 201a-01

My Model Hawaii
Aquatint
36.8 x 15.2 cm vertical formal
Titled and signed by the artist with seal
Overall yellow tone
JCCJMK 201b-01

Back View Nude
Aquatint
36.2 cm x 25.8 cm vertical format
Titled and signed by the artist seal
Heavily creased
JCCJMK 202-02

New Slippers Hawaii
Aquatint
36 cm x 25.6 cm vertical format
Titled and signed by the artist with seal
JCCJMK 202-07

Study of Nude
Aquatint
19.6 cm x 13.4 cm vertical format
Titled and signed by the artist with seal
"No. 2"
JCCJMK 213-01

Nani
Aquatint
12 cm. x 8.5 cm vertical format
Titled and signed with seal
Foxing
JCCJMK 215-04

Proof of study for Fairy and Phoenix
Aquatint
19.1 cm x 15.3 cm vertical format
Unsigned and untitled
JCCJMK 219-02

Hawaii
Color aquatint
27.2 cm x 21.9 cm vertical format
Titled and signed by the artist
"No. 9"
Heavily foxed
JCCJMK 228-11

In Hawaii
Color aquatint
30.4 cm x 20.9 cm vertical format
Titled and signed by the artist
Heavily foxed
JCCJMK 231-07

Two Hawaiians Nani-Lani
Color etching with watercolor filling
42.9 cm x 35.5 cm vertical format
Titled and signed by the artist with seal
JCCJMK 111-03

Two Hawaiians
Etching with watercoloring
42.8 cm x 35.3 cm vertical format
Titled and signed by the artist with seal
JCCJMK 111-02

Hawaiian Head
Sepia aquatint
37.7 cm x 30.4 cm vertical format
Titled and signed by the artist
JCCJMK 259-01

Dancing Girl Hawaii
Color aquatint
37.7 cm x 26.6 cm vertical format
Titled and signed by the artist
Trial proof
Moderate foxing
JCCJMK 265-05

Untitled
Aquatint. "Trial proof from 1 plate, Nov. 4, 1947"
37.9 cm x 30.2 cm vertical format
Signed by the artist with seal
Double registration in lower half of plate
Also known as: Pua Elua Hawaii; Eleana
JCCJMK 275-01

Girl with Mango Hawaii
Color aquatint
45.3 cm x 27.7 cm vertical format
Titled and signed by the artist with seal
JCCJMK 286-07

Two Fisherman Hawaii Etching in black and white
40.3 cm x 30.3 cm vertical format
Titled and signed by the artist with seal
JCCJMK 296-03

Marion
Black and white aquatint
37.9 cm x 29.5 cm vertical format
Titled and signed by the artist with seal
Trial proof
JCCJMK 303-01

Nanea Hawaii
Color aquatint
25.5 cm x 40.6 cm horizontal format
Titled and signed by the artist with seal
JCCJMK 308-01

Flowers of Hawaii
Black and white aquatint
43 cm x 35.4 cm vertical format
Titled and signed by the artist with seal
JCCJMK 323-01

Floral Decoration Hawaii
Black and white aquatint
35.3 cm x 45.1 cm horizontal format
Titled and signed by the artist with seal
Inked line through upper portion of print
JCCJMK 324-01

Hawaiian Decoration
Color aquatint
35.4 cm x 45.6 cm horizontal format
Titled and signed by the artist with seal
JCCJMK 324-02

The Sage
Aquatint with lift ground
45.2 cm x 27.8 cm vertical format
Titled and signed by the artist with seal
Heavily toned
JCCJMK 325-04

Buddhisatva No 1
Aquatint with lift ground
45.5 cm x 27.9 cm vertical format
Titled and signed by the artist with seal
JCCJMK 326-07

White 'uli'uli
Key plate for etching
Aquatint and etched line
Brown ink
1939?
36 x 25.7 cm
JCCJMK35204b

White `uli`uli
Key plate for etching
Black ink
1939?
36.2 x 25.8 cm.
JCCJMK35204a

White `uli`uli
Final combination of all drawings
Aquatint and etched line
Signed by the artist
1939?
36.2 x 25.8 cm.
JCCJMK35204

Untitled
Pencil drawing for untitled aquatint
Seated frmale in hula skirt and bra holding `uli`uli in her lap with one hand
Face erased
Indications for use of color (red & yellow) written in pencil
Faint signature on lower left
1939?
37.6 x 26.7 cm.
JCCJMK804

Untitled
Aquatint of seated female in hula skirt and bra holding `uli`uli on her lap with one hand
Brown
Flower in hair and `uli`uli are red and yellow
1939?
36 x 25.6 cm.
JCCJMK353

Untitled
Pencil drawing of seated female in hula skirt and bra, leaning to the left
1939?
36.5 x 26.4 cm.
JCCJMK805

Untitled
Oil image on paper of seated female in hula skirt and bra holding `uli`uli in her lap with one hand
Signed by the artist
Plate mark and possible etched line visible
Brown and pale green
Image visible on attached second and third sheets of paper
36.2 x 25.8 cm.
JCCJMK354

Portrait of the Artist

Photograph of John Kelly

Photograph of John Kelly from Honolulu Printmakers catalog

Featured Work from the Collection

Untitled, man in profile. Etching by John Kelly

Untitled drypoint by John Kelly

Rights Management

Copyright managed by the estate:
Kelly Art Hawai'i, LLC.