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Jules Tavernier

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Jules Tavernier
19th century atelier of Felix Barrias at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Painter
American (born France), (April 27, 1844–May 18,1889)
About Jules Tavernier
Although Jules Tavernier worked fewer than five years in Hawaii, he is often thought of as the premier interpreter of the volcano. Born in Paris in April 1844, he said that his parents were of English descent and "belonged to one of the old Huguenot families." Tavernier spent his youth in London, then returned to Paris to live with relatives. In 1861 he was admitted to the atelier of Felix Barrias at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, remaining there four years. In 1864 he had two works admitted to the Salon and continued to exhibit there until 1870. He fought in the Franco-Prussian War and, taking advantage of his English citizenship, "left for London on the day the Armistice was signed, February 3, 1871."

Tavernier took employment in London as an illustrator but left there for New York, arriving in 1872, and found work preparing views and a wide variety of genre scenes for the New York Graphic, Harper's Weekly, Scribner's, Appleton's, and other popular periodicals. In 1873 he and a fellow artist, Paul Frenzeny, traveled west, sending back portfolios of sketches and drawings of their travels. Tavernier set up a studio in San Francisco and became a visible figure in the city's artistic circles. He was a founding member of the Bohemian and the Palette clubs and a vice-president of the San Francisco Art Association.

Tavernier arrived in Honolulu late in 1884 to escape his California creditors. He began to paint "with enormous enthusiasm," and for a time, he shared studio space and painting excursions with Joseph Strong. Differences in temperament, however, made theirs a short-lived relationship.

Tavernier's volcano paintings created a sensation when first shown, and he received many commissions for views of other scenic spots as well. Tavernier spent considerable time on Hawaii, painting and sketching at Kilauea Volcano and in Hilo. 

Jules Tavernier

Tavernier remained as impractical and improvident in Hawaii as he had been in San Francisco, dreaming up elaborate schemes, such as a proposed pictorial album and ever-more grandiose depictions of the volcano, including a gigantic panorama. He ran up large bills for canvas, paints, and frames in King Brothers art store, settling accounts in a capricious manner. His wife, Lizzie, left him and returned to San Francisco. Plagued with ill health and incapacitated after bouts of drinking, he was befriended by the Hitchcock family in Hilo and on at least one occasion was sent up to their mountain house to recover. Jules Tavernier died in Honolulu on May 18, 1889, and is buried in Oahu Cemetery, Nuuanu Valley, under a massive granite marker sent by the Bohemian Club in San Francisco.  

Images and descriptions collected from "Encounters with Paradise",

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