Ralph Burke Tyree (Hawaii, 1921 - 1979)
Ralph Burke Tyree is well regarded as the most successful protege of Edgar Leeteg, the "Rembrandt of Black Velvet", exceeding his master with his sensuous depictions of scenes and people from the South Seas.
Sometimes their work was categorized as "Tiki Art" and graced famous haunts such as Trader Vic's, Kona Inn, Don the Beachcomer, Canlis Restaurant, Pat's at Punalu'u, and the Tropics.
Born in Kentucky, Tyree attended the California College of Arts and Crafts and then, between 1942 and 1946, worked as a public relations artist for the U.S. Marine Corps. Fascinated by the tropical flora and cultures of the South Pacific, Tyree painted extensively in Samoa, Fiji, the Gilbert Islands, the Marianas and Japan before settling on Maui in 1964. His work is filled with figures and portraits that are sensuous portrayals of Pacific island people.
Tyree is featured in Don Severson's book Finding Paradise, a sort of sequel to David Forbes' Encounters in Paradise, which was done for the Honolulu Academy of Arts. Like Leeteg, Tyree did paintings on canvas, board and velvet, and many believe that he surpassed his master's accomplishments in his renditions of the gracefulness of island beauty. Tyree's paintings are quite rare and collectible, occasionally showing up at premiere auctions or at quality galleries.