Botanical study of the cream colored flower of the male Pandanus tectorius, a tree native to Hawaii and commonly known by its Hawaiian name, hala, or as the Hawaiian screw pine. The watercolor centers on the cream colored bracteate flower, framed by long sword-shaped prickly green leaves. Adaptable to poor, salty or sandy soils and hot, windy conditions, the hala is one of the classic picturesque trees of the coastal Hawaiian lowlands and other South Pacific islands. There are both male and female plants. As featured in this painting, the male has distinctive cream-colored flowers called hinano, surrounded by cream colored sword-shaped bracts (modified leaves). The flower is so fragrant that it was said that fishermen lost in the fog could find the coast by following the scent.
Alexander Samuel MacLeod was a lithographer and painter based in Hawaii for much of his career and best known for his depictions of the Hawaiian people and landscape. Born in Prince Edward Island, Canada, he studied at McGill University. He continued his artistic training in San Francisco at the California School of Design. His earliest exhibitions were in 1917 at the National Academy of Design and the New York Watercolor Club. In 1921, he went to Hawaii where he worked in the art departments of Paradise of the Pacific magazine and the Honolulu Advertiser and Honolulu Star-Bulletin newspapers. He returned to Canada for ten years beginning in 1929. He exhibited regularly throughout the U.S. during the 1930s and 1940s, at the Brooklyn Museum, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and many other venues. He returned to Hawaii in the 1940s where he was a regular participant in the Honolulu Printmakers exhibitions and won several prizes. MacLeod authored and illustrated a book The Spirit of Hawaii—Before and After Pearl Harbor (1943). From 1945 he headed the Graphic Art Department, Adjutant General Division of the U.S. Army in the Pacific Ocean Areas. He retired to Palo Alto, California. His works are in the collections of the Honolulu Academy of Art, the Seattle Art Museum, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Gallery of Art and the University of Hawaii, among others.
Condition: Generally very good with the usual light toning, fading, soiling, wear, soft creases. Professionally deacidified and removed from backboard. Faint mat toning in outer margins, small chip professionally tipped in upper margin, all can be rematted out.
"Alexander Samuel MacLeod." Wikipedia. 30 July 2014. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Samuel_MacLeod (3 February 2015).
Eickhoff, David. "Pandanus tectorius, Liliuokalani Botanical Garden, Oahu." Hawai'i Memory Project. 17 July 2008. http://memory.hawaii.edu/object/Pandanus_tectorius_feature.html (3 February 2015).
Gilbert, Dorothy B., ed. Who’s Who in American Art. New York: American Federation of Arts and R.R. Bowker, 1959. p.362.
"Pandanus Tectorius." Native Plants Hawai'i. 2009. http://nativeplants.hawaii.edu/plant/view/Pandanus_tectorius (3 February 2015).