Matteo Sandonà was a painter born in Schio, Italy and raised in the Alps. He immigrated with his family to New Jersey in 1894. Two years later he returned to Europe for four years of study at the Academy of Fine Arts, Verona and in Paris under Napoleone Nani and Mose Bianchi. After returning to the United States, he took further training at the National Academy of Design. In 1901, he and his father settled in San Francisco. Sandonà co-founded the California Society of Artists in 1901. In 1903, he made the first of several trips to Hawaii, where he painted portraits of members of the Kawananakoa family, princes of Hawai'i.