D. Howard Hitchcock

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David Howard Hitchcock

Birthdate: (82)
Death: 1943 (82)
Immediate Family:

Son of David Howard Hitchcock and Almeda Eliza Widger
Brother of Almeda Hitchcock Moore

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About D. Howard Hitchcock


David Howard Hitchcock (1861–1943) was an American painter of the Volcano School, known for his depictions of Hawaii.


David Howard Hitchcock was born May 15, 1861 in Hilo, Hawaii. Since his father was also named David Howard Hitchcock (1831–1899), he generally went by D. Howard Hitchcock. His mother was Almeda Eliza Widger (1828–1895). His paternal grandparents were missionaries Harvey Rexford Hitchcock (1800–1855) and Rebecca Howard (1808–1890). His father was a lawyer who served in the legislature of the Hawaiian Kingdom, and his sister Almeda Eliza Hitchcock Moore (1863–1895) was the first woman lawyer in Hawaii. His uncle Edward Griffin Hitchcock (1837–1898) married Mary Tenney Castle, daughter of Castle & Cooke founder Samuel Northrup Castle. His cousin once removed (Edward Griffin's grandson) was football player Harvey Rexford Hitchcock, Jr..

After graduating from Punahou School, Hitchcock attended Oberlin College in Ohio, where he saw his first art exhibition. Back in Hawaii, he wandered the volcano wilderness with a sketch pad and watercolors. French artist Jules Tavernier, painting in Hawaii, saw Hitchcock's sketches and convinced him to study art seriously. After Tavernier's death in 1889 Hitchcock studied painting in Paris and returned to Hawaii in 1893.

In 1894, Hitchcock became one of the founders of the Kilohana Art League, an active art program in Honolulu at the turn of the century, exhibiting at least twice a year. He married Hester Judd Dickson (August 30, 1865–November 24, 1921) on June 16, 1898 at the Cathedral Church of Saint Andrew, Honolulu. Her maternal grandfather was Gerrit Parmele Judd (1803–1873), an early missionary physician to Hawaii.

During extensive travels in the 1900s, Hitchcock explored the volcanic regions of the island of Hawaiʻi, and in July 1907 he made his first visit to the island of Kauaʻi, where he painted Waimea Canyon. He toured and painted the island of Maui in 1915 and 1916. He was a leading member of Hawaii's Volcano School, and his most important paintings date from about 1905 to 1930.

His paintings were exhibited at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in Seattle in 1909 (where he was awarded a prize) and at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco in 1915. In 1919 he painted two murals for the Pan-Pacific Union in Honolulu. Later he traveled to New York, painting dramatic views of Hawaii for the new steamers Haleakala and Malolo of the Inter-Island Steam Navigation Company. During the late 1920s, his style became more impressionistic.

In 1927, he exhibited several paintings at the opening of the Honolulu Museum of Art, where he had a retrospective exhibition in 1936. In 1939 he exhibited in the Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco and at the 1939 New York World's Fair.

Death and legacy

Hitchcock died in Honolulu on January 1, 1943 after personally witnessing the Attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. He had three children: Howard Harvey Hitchcock born March 26, 1899, Joshua Dickson Hitchcock born February 24, 1901, and Helen Hitchcock Maxon born June 17, 1906.

Hitchcock is credited for bringing home Boy Scouting from a California visit around 1910. He worked first with Paul Soper of the YMCA, and then James A. (Kimo) Wilder to establish Troop 1 and became its first scoutmaster. Hitchcock and Wilder were both artists, having similar backgrounds in art and travel, even sketching the grounding of the steamship Manchuria together in August, 1906. Wilder was cousin of Hitchcock's wife, and son of steamship company founder Samuel Garner Wilder.

Hitchcock wrote:

Visiting such men as could be found who were interested I obtained all the data then available with a series of photographs from the East illustrating [Boy Scouts] activities and with these came back to Honolulu where I proceeded to organize a troop (now Troop I) which at first consisted of one patrol. It was later known as the Rainbow troop from the variety of colors represented in its personnel.

In 1966 his son Harvey donated a painting of the volcano goddess Pele which was displayed in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park visitors center. In 2003 the Volcano Art Center had a special competition for Pele paintings, in an effort to create a more modern and culturally authentic rendering. The Bernice P. Bishop Museum (Honolulu), The Boston Museum, the Honolulu Museum of Art, the Isaacs Art Center (Waimea, Hawaii), and the Oakland Museum of California are among the public collections holding paintings by David Howard Hitchcock.

Hitchcock is called the first homegrown artist in Hawaii with international recognition.

Auction record

The auction record for a painting by David Howard Hitchcock is $82,250. This record was set by Windward Oahu, Hawaii, a 12 by 18 inch oil painting on canvas sold May 19, 2006 at Skinner Inc. (Boston).

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D. Howard Hitchcock's Timeline

Age 82