DALE, Lt. John B. (1814-1848). Original Watercolour Drawing of the View along Waikiki Beach near Diamond Head, O'ahu, Hawaiin Islands. [November, 1845].
Single sheet, matted and framed (7 8/12 x 10 inches). Fine original sepia watercolour drawing of the view looking southeast along Waikiki beach in the lea of the very distinctive crater of Diamond Head, O'ahu, in the Hawaiian Islands, showing native dwellings the jungle of palm trees encroaching on Waikiki beach and local fishermen and their canoes pulled up on the beach.
Originally one of three official artists for the celebrated "Wilkes Expedition" from 1838, John B. Dale returned to the United States in July of 1840 and joined Ferdinand Rudolph Hassler's U.S. Coastal Survey, which at that time was focused on Delaware Bay to chart the approaches to Philadelphia. In march of 1844 John B. Dale is a 5th Lieutenant aboard the USS Constitution, under the command of Captain John Percival, or "Mad Jack" Percival, as he was known. Between May of 1844 and September 1846 the USS Constitution undertook a circumnavigation of the globe, arriving in Honolulu in November of 1845. During the Constitution's brief stay amongst the islands, Dale created his evocative images of Hawaii in the earliest days of American involvement there. By the middle of January 1846 the Constitution was in Mexico, called to duty, as the United States was preparing for war after the Texas annexation. She arrived in Mazatlán on the 13th of January, 1846 and stayed for three months without seeing any action, finally setting sail for home on the 22nd April, and arriving in Boston on 27 September.
When Charles Wilkes arrived in Hawaii just five years earlier, he described this scene in Chapter II of volume IV of his Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition During the Years 1838, 1839, 1840, 1841, and 1842, pages 89-90: "The most conspicuous point about Oahu, is the noted crater on its east end, called Lealu or Diamond Hill. This lies about four and a half miles from Honolulu, and forms a very picturesque object from the harbour. It is the largest coast-crater on the island, and was visited by many of us. The rock, for the most part, consists of vesicular lava, very rough and black. The ascent to it is somewhat difficult. On the margin of the crater, calcareous incrustations are formed. It is quite shallow, and between a half and a third of a mile in diameter. There is no appearance of a lava-stream having issued from it. Its surface is thickly strewn with lava-blocks, which were also found embedded in the coral rock along the shore. The raised coral reef was also seen here, where it is partially decomposed, so as to resemble chalk, and had been quarried. This rock was found to contain fossils of recent species...
"...At the foot of this hill, on the western side, are the remains of a heiau or ancient temple. Certain ceremonies were performed on the consecration of these temples, a description of which my friend Dr. Judd obtained for me, from the best native authorities, and for which I must refer the reader, who may be curious in such matters, to Appendix III. The mode of building these structures, if so they may be called, was for each of the inhabitants, both high and low, to bring stones by hand. They are usually quadrangular. The one above noticed was on the hill-side overlooking the plain lying towards Honolulu, on which is the village or town of Waikiki...". Catalogued by Kate Hunter