Coconut Palms, Waikiki, Oahu, dated 1927

William Twigg-Smith, (1883 – 1950)
Oil on Board
13″ x 9″
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Of the various artists making names for themselves in Hawaii in the early twentieth century, William Twigg-Smith has the distinction of being the only immigrant from New Zealand. Born in Nelson, New Zealand in 1883, Twigg-Smith specialized in landscapes and marine subjects.

Twigg-Smith trained for an art career at the Art Institute of Chicago, and it was while en route there at the age of sixteen that he first visited Hawaii. He returned in 1916 in time to team up with Lionel Walden and D. Howard Hitchcock on the famous Pan-Pacific Carnival dioramas exhibited in 1917. That year marked his first exhibit in Hawaii, in an inaugural show sponsored by the Hawaii Society of Artists.

Later in 1917 Twigg-Smith returned to France to work on army camouflage for World War I, then he returned permanently to Hawaii in 1919. In 1923 he was hired to be a full time illustrator for the Hawaii Sugar Planters Association. He had to paint in his spare time after this, though he did have a one-man show at the Honolulu Academy of Arts in 1927.

Though painting primarily landscapes, Twigg-Smith varied his subject matter to include fishing activities, harbor and urban scenes, gardens, sugar cane fields, and of course, volcanoes.

He was also a talented musician, and supported himself by playing the flute while in Chicago. For a number of years in Hawaii he played second flutist with the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra.

In 1946 Twigg-Smith retired to Kona. He painted many of this island’s features before dying there in 1950.

Sources include:
Peter Hastings Falk, Editor, Who Was Who in American Art
David Forbes: Encounters With Paradise;

William Gerdts, Art Across America, Volume 3

By Sarah Nelson