Born in 1831 in Boston, Enoch Wood Perry, Jr, is internationally recognized for genre subjects -depictions of people engaged in everyday activities, and also for portraits of prominent Americans, including Ulysses S. Grant and Jefferson Davis.
He was educated at the Düsseldorf Academy in Germany and then at Thomas Couture's studio in France. Perry also traveled to Venice, where he served as the U.S. Consul between 1856 and 1858. When he returned to the United States in 1856, he dedicated his painting to the pursuit of American themes.
Like many Americans artists, Perry was likely intrigued by the books, travel articles, and photographs that began to circulate in the mid-nineteenth century. He traveled to northern California, where he spent several years sketching and painting with Albert Bierstadt, one of the premier painters of the American West, taking special interest in the magnificence of Yosemite Valley and its changing climate.
In 1864, Perry sailed to Honolulu, with the idea of painting the wonders of nature there, and was well received as a 'genuine artist'. He traveled to most of the islands, and painted landscapes and portraits, including posthumous images of King Kamehameha IV and his young son Prince Albert Edward Kauikeaouli Leiopapa a Kamehameha (held in the Bishop Museum of Honolulu), as well as notable Island landscapes.
Perry also received commissions to paint the 'gentlemen's seats', the estates of wealthy landholders, including Dr. Gerrit P. Judd's Kualoa Ranch on Oahu and James Makee's Rose Ranch and sugar plantation in Ulupalakua, Maui (painting held at the Honolulu Academy of Art).
In these pastoral scenes, Perry juxtaposes humankind with the grandeur of the natural world. His landscapes exhibit the traditions popularized by many painters of his day working in the United States, and he was likely inspired by his work with Albert Bierstadt in the Yosemite Valley of California.
Don Severson, author of Finding Paradise wrote: "Perry created some of the most compelling paintings of his era in Hawaii, including (his) depiction of Kualoa Ranch." (p.79). Perry remained in Hawaii long enough to encourage and probably instruct two island artists, Edward Bailey and Joseph Nawahi.
David Forbes, Encounters With Paradise
Don Severson, "Finding Paradise", in association withHonolulu Academy of Art.