Kamehameha II and Queen Kamehamalu, 1824
Hawai‘i State Archives
While on their London visit in 1824, King Kamehameha II and Queen Kamehamalu posed for the artist John Hayter, painter to the British royal court. From this encounter the only known images of the King and Queen exist today.
Besides drawing their portraits on stone in order to print lithographs for sale to the curious British public, Hayter also painted their portraits in oil to be presented to their Hawaiian majesties as gifts from King George IV. However, after their sudden deaths from measles, the paintings mysteriously disappeared.
Lost for some 160 years, the original oil portraits were found in 1986 in Ireland. Mr. John Loring, the discoverer, donated the portraits to ‘Iolani Palace in 2003.