Joseph Dwight Strong

Joseph Dwight Strong

Joseph Dwight Strong, Jr. (September 15, 1853, Connecticut - April 5, 1899) was an American artist.

The son of a minister, his childhood was spent in Honolulu with his family for a few years before moving to Oakland, California in 1859. He later enrolled at the California School of Design. Residents of Oakland, California raised funds to send Strong to Munich for four years of further study under Carl von Piloty and Alexander Wagner. He was also an early photographer. There are photos of Berkeley attributed to J.D. Strong.

After his return in 1877, Strong briefly shared a house in Monterey with his sister Elizabeth, but was soon back in San Francisco where he was much sought after as a portraitist. In 1879 he married Isobel Osbourne, the daughter of Fanny Vandegrift and step daughter of the writer Robert Louis Stevenson. Stevenson described Joseph in "The Silverado Squatters" as a great omelet maker.

The couple traveled to Hawaii in 1882, where they lived for several years. In 1886, King David Kalakaua appointed Joseph Dwight Strong governmental artist to the Kaimiloa expedition to Samoa. His child, Austin Strong (who became a playwright) was born there (a second son was born to the Strongs, but he died before his first birthday).

When Stevenson, his wife, Fanny, and Isobel's brother, Lloyd, came to visit in Hawaii, Strong was invited to go island hopping in the South Pacific. His wife and young son were sent to Australia while he travelled with Stevenson. Once the Stevensons were settled in Samoa, Strong and his wife joined them there in 1891.

Strong had an affair with a Samoan girl which resulted in his divorce from Isobel and his rejection by Stevenson. His son Austin was legally adopted by Stevenson. Many of the diaries and letters which Stevenson and his family published after the divorce were edited to remove all reference to Joseph Strong, and several photographs were destroyed or altered. In 1895, Joseph Dwight Strong returned to San Francisco. He died on April 5, 1899.

The Honolulu Academy of Arts and the Oakland Museum of California hold works by Joseph Dwight Strong.



* Forbes, David W., "Encounters with Paradise: Views of Hawaii and its People, 1778-1941", Honolulu Academy of Arts, 1992, 174-212.
* Moors, H.J., "With Stevenson In Samoa", Small, Maynard & Company, 1910.
* Stevenson, Fanny and Robert Louis Stevenson, "Our Samoan Adventure", Harper & Brothers, 1955
* Field, Isobel, "This LIfe I've Loved", Longmans, Green And Co, 1937

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