Eugene Francis Savage (1883-1978) was a famous American painter known for his mural paintings and sculptures. In 1940 he completed a two year project for a series of nine 4x8 foot murals for the Matson Shipping line. For this commission, Savage made many exacting studies of customs and folkways of the Hawaiian natives. However, the award-winning murals were not installed as planned but were put in storage during the war years when the ships were used for U.S. troop transportation.
In 1948, only six of the nine mural images were reproduced by the shipping company into lithographed menu covers for the company's refurbished flagship "Lurline", "Island Feast" was one of those menu covers. Due to the increased demand, these menus were given away to passengers at the end of the voyage. This was the custom on all steamship lines. This stopped in the 1980s aboard most ships when menus were standardized.
Two years later Savage was bestowed the highest possible award of the American Institute of Graphic Arts for his menu covers, the Certificate of Excellence. A year thereafter The Smithsonian Institution exhibited them, and today the series is part of its permanent collection.
This "Island Feast" print was scanned and then digitally restored from an original menu cover acquired by James Temple on Ebay. The image has not been cropped, and the artist's signature," E. Savage", appears in the lower right hand corner.
Eugene Savage's art is regarded the finest that the period produced and no collection of Hawaiian nostalgia would be complete without at least one example of Savage's fine art.
December 20th, 2012
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