Madge Tennent 1889 - 1972

Madge Tennent's Alphabet in Hawaii, 1944
Watercolor and gouache on paper in a bound book format
11.25 x 7.50 in (28.58 x 19.05 cm)
Boards are 8 ¾ inches by 12 inches
Orientation: 28 original paintings in Gouache and watercolor in portrait orientation, each having 2 punched holes at the top, tied together by a ribbon
Consisting of:
 Front and back cover
 Dedication page, “For Madge II From Madge I”
 End page
 26 pages, each representing one letter of the English alphabet
 All but the front and back covers are illustrated by the artist
 All drawings are on heavy art paper with Pompeian red watercolor paint
 All drawings are of Hawaiian themes

Note from the granddaughter (Madge II) regarding the ABC Book:

As the artist’s youngest son Valentine was overseas with the Allied forces in North Africa and Italy during World War II, the Alphabet book includes several pages reflecting Madge’s preoccupation with the war. See “V” for Victory and “Z” for Zeal (victory garden) and perhaps “J for Joy,” anticipating the end of the war.

The Hawaiian alphabet contains only twelve (Latin/English) letters (and an ʻokina, representing a glottal stop). Madge had to be creative to find Hawaiian things and ideas for some of the letters. See “Y” for Yellow, a yellow cup of gold flower. “R” for Root, represented by a taro root. “X”…simply a man standing with arms and legs stretched out to represent an “X.”

The Alphabet book is mentioned on page 39 of Madge Tennent’s “Autobiography of an Unarrived Artist” (1949, Columbia University Press) as having been written with the intention of printed copies being made and sold at cost for young sons and daughters who, like Madge II, were waiting for their “overseas Daddys [sic]” to return from the war. Although the copies were printed, the war ended before any distribution. See my mother Jeanne Tennent’s letter to me (Madeline) dated January 9, 1989, which I have enclosed, for more details.
Many of the pages have white paint (or White Out?) covering splotches of the Pompeian red paint. These may have been made by Madge to tidy things up, or possibly by the printer to make clean printed copies. Similar splotches that were not touched up are found on the reverse of some pages.

“Madge Tennent’s Alphabet Book in Hawaii” is, in my opinion, an item to be owned, treasured, enjoyed, and preserved by a discriminating collector of Hawaiian art and artifacts. Or perhaps a museum. I have decided not to pass it on to my children and grandchildren, as it is a unique representation of my grandmother’s art and not something to be handed around casually at home, perhaps mishandled and eventually lost or destroyed. I would much rather know that it is in the hands of a person or entity who will love and appreciate it for its beauty and uniqueness and who will preserve it properly. And for its expression of love and aloha from my grandmother to me.

Madge Tennent II

P.O. Box 432
Medina, Washington 98039
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