James Gay Sawkins

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'Hilo from the Bay', oil on canvas painting by James Gay Sawkins, 1852
'Mrs Gerrit P. Judd and her Daughter Juliet Isabel', oil on canvas painting by James Gay Sawkins, 1850, Mission Houses Museum (Honolulu)

James Gay Sawkins (1806–1878) was an artist who was born in 1806 in Yeovil, Somerset, England. At the age of 14, he moved to Baltimore, Maryland with his family, where he made his living painting miniature portraits on ivory. He lived in Cuba from 1835 to 1845 and visited Hawaii from January, 1850 to June, 1852. After working in Australia, he returned to England in 1855. Sawkins died in 1878 in Turnham Green (near London), England.

The Honolulu Museum of Art, Mission House Museum (Honolulu, Hawaii) and the National Library of Australia (Canberra) are among the public collections holding works by James Gay Sawkins.


  • Forbes, David W., "Encounters with Paradise: Views of Hawaii and its People, 1778-1941", Honolulu Academy of Arts, 1992, 89-147.
  • Sawkins, James Gay "A pictorial tour of Hawaii, 1850-1852: watercolors, paintings, & drawings by James Gay Sawkins, with an account of his life & travels", San Francisco, Book Club of California, 1991.