Mr. Furneaux’s Paintings.
A very interesting series of oil paintings by Mr. Furneaux is to be seen in the tower room of the Government Building [Aliiolani Hale]. These are chiefly sketches of the volcanic phenomena which have been displayed on Hawaii since November last. Having been on the spot from the beginning of the eruption, and taking a great interest in it, Mr. Furneaux has been able to secure illustrations of all its phases during the progress of the flow, from its source to the immediate proximity of the sea. The first of the series is a view taken from Kawaihae, in November last, after the flow had divided into two or more streams; one the Kau stream, which, after threatening the Kapapala Plantation, has long since ceased to flow; another the flow towards the plateau between Maunaloa and Maunakea, which, after many windings and doublings, is now threatening the town and harbor of Hilo. The next view was taken from Hilo Bay, and shows the three streams which were so conspicuous on the face of the mountain in November last. Immediately after his arrival Mr. Furneaux paid a visit to the crater of eruption, which is situated at an elevation of about 12,000 feet, or about 2,000 feet below the summit of the mountain. Three of the paintings depict this crater, one being from a point which gives a view of its interior. Another picture gives a near view of the blow-hole, or secondary crater, from which a discharge of lava was noticed on December 3rd. The next group of paintings gives us vivid illustrations of the conditions of things near Hilo in April and May last. In the former month Mr. Furneaux obtained a fine view of the main flow, as it appeared in the woods about eight miles from Hilo, at the time when its whole width of two to two and a half miles was in a molten and very active state, just at a point where the Puna, Waiakea and Hilo flows were being separately developed from it. In this picture we have a fine illustration of the “volcano cloud” with its deep red tinge looking more fiery than the very lava whose glow it reflects. The next of the series shows the curious phenomena of a waterspout on the lava flow, a sight frequently witnessed when the front face of the stream was lingering in the woods. Another picture also taken in April at the same distance from Hilo, shows the black and broken surface of the flow of 1856 and this new and greater flow creeping up to and over it. The next series of sketches were of the Waiakea flow taken two months before the sudden outburst by which it has threatened the sugar mill. One is of the artist’s camp in a dense growth of ohias, tree-ferns and wild bananas close to the edge of the flow. Another sketch from the tent door pictures some bananas, ferns and creepers with the red glare from the lava as a background. A third is a daylight view of the flow showing the havoc made in the lovely forest thus cruelly invaded. This sketch was taken when one tall ohia remained still erect with lava all round it. John Hall, whose place has since been destroyed, was Mr. Furneaux’s guide, and the latter made a sketch of his house before its fate was anticipated. This view was taken in May; a companion picture shows everything overwhelmed except a tree and part of the fence, with an extraordinary pit in the foreground, revealing the liquid lava flowing beneath the cooled crust. Later in May Mr. Furneaux paid a visit to what is known as the Hilo flow. Among the group of sketches then taken is one of the advanced part of the flow, with a group of Hawaiians getting specimens in the foreground; a sketch of Hale Laumaia, with the volcanic cloud hanging over the wooded scenery of the background; a sketch of the flow at the moment of one of the gas explosions, which are common when the lava is passing over the surface of previous flows, and penetrating into the caverns which about in the dead lava. Then comes a sketch in which we have a cascade of lava falling over a ledge of bare rock, and by way of contrast to its lurid fire, the flame of burning timber and undergrowth on the right hand of the picture. Following this series is a picture of the Waiakea flow as seen from a distance before its sudden advance; also a sketch of H. H. Ruth Keelikolani’s place, where that flow will probably reach the sea. The last group are from sketches taken late in July, after the Waiakea flow had pushed forward with so much violence. One of John Hall’s property has already been alluded to; another shows the lava flowing over a precipice about 60 feet wide, and 14 or 15 feet high, into a great pool of water—a scene already familiar to us through Mr. Dickson’s photographs; and a third shows the Waiakea mill, and the position of the flow on 25th July, with the intervening land. One interesting picture shows the way in which the lava at times pushes its way forward, throwing out snake-like tongues of fire from the black front of the stream.
Besides these paintings, there are some pictures of Halemaumau, and some views of forest and mountain scenery. Mr. Furneaux has also a number of other pictures, which he has not at present opened out for the public view, as he intends to return at once to Hilo to increase his store of sketches, and to catch, if possible, the lava stream in the very act of precipitating itself into the sea.
(Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 8/13/1881, p. 3)