I’ve written before about our love for Vladimir Tretchikoff’s ‘Chinese Girl’, which also is widely known as ‘The Green Lady’ — it’s a classic print to seek out for your tropical lounge, polynesian style patio or home tiki bar. Today, another classic — just as ‘essential’ and super fun to hunt for: August Holland’s ‘The Pearl of Wisdom’. It was Holland’s most widely distributed work. But wait! There are two more — the hard-to-find Drums of the Night, and the rarest-of-the-rare, The Fire God.
Hoarding wildly Collecting intensely for my planned conversion of my dining room/living room into an epic Mahalo Lounge (working title), I recently found a framed print (shown above, I cropped out the frame) of Holland’s The Pearl of Wisdom online and slapped my credit card down as fast as I could. It’s absolutely beautiful — the blue is really quite intense. Note, however, that I played with the color in my photo program. It’s soooo hard to get it right photographically. My online version is more saturated, more intense, because I am not good at photo manipulation and admit, I went for ka-pow.
Fascinatingly: I found an owner online who owns a print that was wired so that the Maori idol holding the bowl is backlit. If I can figure out how to this safely — and if it works (my print seems to be mounted on some sort of fiberboard that seems pretty opaque) — heck to the yeah! See the light up version here.
There’s an August Holland website, which says that Holland created The Pearl of Wisdom in the 1960s or 1970s, and that thousands are in circulation. Ya wouldn’t seem to know it, because I don’t see them on ebay or etsy very much. And with the tiki revival underway, golly, they often are set at pretty high prices, or, if set at more ‘reasonable’ prices, seem to get snapped up fast.
There also is a second print — Drums of the Night — which looks to be even more rare, judging by the lack of online sales listings. Here I go again: Putting something out there that I
want neeeeeeeeeeed, thereby diminishing my own likelihood of being able to snap it up at a decent price.
And get this — there is also an extremely rare third print: Usually referred to as “The Fire God,” a tikiroom reader with a copy showed the printed name as “A Power Within”. Shown above, used with permission from owner nomeus of www.flurbex.com, spotted on Tiki Central aka tikiroom.com. He says he found it on ebay. Thank you, nomeus! P.S. I really love the frame, too (idea!). BE STILL MY BEATING HEART — if I could collect all three. Anyone else out there have this? All these?
About August Holland
The August Holland website has a good biography of Holland (update: alas, the website is no longer online). Born in 1928, he was a lifelong resident of Mendota, Illinois, where he built a successful career as an artist. In particular, he focused on and was known for his oil paintings (with subsequent prints) of seascapes. The site explains that so many prints of The Pearl of Wisdom went in circulation because they were featured in S&H and Gold Bond stamp catalogs and in furniture stores. Holland died in 1998.
How did I find my The Pearl of Wisdom print at a ‘reasonable’ price?
My go-to places to look for anything vintage online are (1) eBay and (2) etsy. But as soon as I decided I needed this print, I was quicky frustrated by lack of inventory and by the high prices. So I did a google search — went to the Images tab — and started going through what was in there. In no time flat, I found an antique store in New York that had a print for sale on their website [print was not on ebay or etsy, though.] I think I paid about $150 including shipping. The piece has a few flea bites, and it’s possible that someday I will invest in a striking frame, but time is money and now I’m blogging about this print and now I have it!
Another three items you can be on the lookout for at estate sales for $10 or $5 or $2 — or at your parents’ or other relatives’ houses!