Category Archives: Early California

  • TITLE: Mountain Landscape
  • SIZE: 25″ X 29″
  • MEDIUM: Oil on Canvas
  • SIGNED: Lower Right

Lee Randolph is noted for his Impressionist landscapes and portraits. He was born in 1880 in Ravenna, Ohio. He started his art training at Stevenson Art School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and later studied under Frank Duvenek and Thomas Noble at the Cincinnati Art Academy. In New York City Randolph attended the Art Students League where Kenny Cox and George Bridgeman were his instructors. He traveled to Europe for ten years of art study, spending time in Paris, France, and Rome, Italy. In Paris he studied at Academie Julian under the instruction of Jean Paul Laurens and at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts under Bonnat and Marson. Randolph relocated to California in 1913 where he stayed briefly in the Monterey area before settling in San Francisco. He became a member of the Bohemian Club and the California Society of Etchers. In the winter 1915 he taught at University of California, Berkeley, and in 1917 he began a twenty-five year position as director of the California School of Fine Arts. In 1915 he received a bronze medal at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. He exhibited at the Del Monte Art Gallery (1916), the Oakland Art Gallery (1916), the Paris Salon (1935), and the San Francisco Art Association (1916). He spent most of his later years in the Carmel area where he was an active member of the Carmel Art Association. He died in Salinas, California in 1956.



  • TITLE: Female Portrait
  • SIZE: 25″ X 20″
  • MEDIUM: Oil on Canvas
  • SIGNED: Lower Right

Born in Toronto, Canada on Jan. 22, 1880, Henrietta Shore began painting at age 13 and studied at St Mary’s College in Toronto and later in New York City at the Art Students League with William Merritt Chase, Frank Vincent Dumond, and Robert Henri.

While in London she continued at the Heatherly Art School and was the only private pupil of John Singer Sargent who greatly influenced her work. After arriving in Los Angeles in 1913, she became active in the local art scene and was a founder of the Modern Art Society. She maintained a studio in Los Angeles until 1920 and then led a peripatic existence: Newfoundland (1920), Maine (1921, NYC (1920-23), Mexico 1927-28), and San Francisco (1928-29).

Shore was internationally known when an invitation to exhibit brought her to the Monterey Peninsula in 1930. After establishing a studio in Carmel, she remained and continued painting. Penniless, she spent her last few years were in the State Mental Hospital in San Jose, CA where she died on May 17, 1963.

Her early works were realistic but matured into impressionist and semi-abstract forms. Her visual repertoire includes landscapes, figure studies, portraiture, and floral still lifes. Robert Henri hailed her as one of the great women painters of her time.

Henrietta Shore and her Work by Merle Armitage was published in 1963, and a chapter was devoted to her in the 1939 book entitled Art from the Mayans to Walt Disney by Jean Charlot.

Memberships: Society of Independent Artists; NY Society of Women Artists (founder); Painters & Sculptors of LA (founder).

Panama-California Expo (San Diego), 1915 (silver medal); San Francisco Art Association, 1916-30 (prizes); LA Museum of History, Science & Art, 1914, 1917, 1918, 1927; California Art Club, 1917; Modern Art Workers (LA), 1919-25; California Watercolor Society, 1926; San Diego Fine Arts Gallery, 1927 (solo); San Francisco Women Artists, 1928 (1st prize); California Palace of the Legion of Honor, 1928, 1931 (solos); Watrous Gallery (Carmel), 1933; De Young Museum, 1933 (solo); Foundation of Western Art (LA), 1935; Golden Gate International Exposition, 1939; Carmel Art Association, 1946, 1963 (solos); Monterey Peninsula Museum, 1986 and Laguna Museum, 1987 (solos).

DeSaisset Museum (Santa Clara); Library of Congress; Nat’l Gallery of Canada; San Diego Museum; Dallas Museum; University of Washington (Seattle).

Murals: Assessor’s Office (SF); Santa Cruz (CA) Post Office; Custom House and Post Office (Monterey).

Edan Hughes, Artists in California, 1786-1940



  • TITLE: Kilanea Volcano
  • SIZE: 4.5″ X 9.75″
  • MEDIUM: Pastel
  • DATED: 1887

Perhaps best remembered for his volcano paintings of Hawaii, Jules Tavernier also painted notable scenes of the West. Born in Paris, Jules Tavernier had a father who was English and a French mother, and Jules claimed British citizenship. As a child he lived in both England and France. As a young man he studied with artist Felix Barrias in Paris, and in 1864 began to exhibit at the Paris Salon. He also painted in Barbizon, France.

At the start of the Franco-Prussian War, Tavernier volunteered for service. At the end of the war he took advantage of his British citizenship and moved to London where he worked as an illustrator. From London he moved to New York where he continued to work in illustration. In New York, he spent time with artist Paul Frenzeny (1840-1902), who worked at Harper’s, as did Tavernier. In 1873 the two got an assignment to travel in the West, sketching scenes for the magazine.

Tavernier and Frenzeny spent time in Missouri, Texas, Colorado, Nebraska, Utah, and various other places before arriving in San Francisco in 1874. Their sketches of the Nebraska Sioux include some of the earliest depictions of particularly sacred rituals.

In 1875 the two artists became members of the Bohemian Club in San Francisco, a group of creative people. Members were newsmen, artists, musicians, actors, and businessmen who shared an interest in the arts and camaraderie. Tavernier helped found both the Bohemian and Palette Clubs, and was also a vice-president of the San Francisco Art Association.

In 1876, Jules built a studio in Monterey, a quiet coastal town several hours south of San Francisco. Paul Frenzeny moved there too, but the two quarreled and their friendship came to an end.

Tavernier married Lizzie Fulton in 1877. Her father was from New York, and her mother was Austrian. Their marriage was troubled, as Tavernier’s habits of indebtedness and drinking took a toll.

He quarreled and ran up debts with Monterey locals, and in 1879 Tavernier returned to San Francisco where he shared a studio with Julian Rix (1850-1903) and Joseph Strong (1852-1899), with whom he had been friends in Monterey. Another friend from Monterey, Giuseppe Gariboldi, helped Tavernier get some mural commissions, including some for the Hopkins residence in San Francisco. Hopkins was one of the ‘Big Four’ railroad magnates who had built the Central Pacific Railroad.

In the early 1880s, Tavernier spent time painting in Yosemite as well as British Colombia. His debts were mounting however, and in 1884, he and Lizzie set sail for the Hawaiian Islands, escaping some of his San Francisco credit problems.

Arriving in Honolulu, he for a time shared studio space with Joseph Strong, having known Joseph and Isobel Strong from San Francisco. Strong and Tavernier went on a sketching trip to ‘the Big Island’ of Hawaii, and it was there that Tavernier first saw Kilauea, the volcano that was to become his inspiration. But the relationship between Tavernier and Strong was short-lived, due to differences in temperament.

In 1885, Tavernier began doing volcano paintings that received rave reception. He, along with Charles Furneaux (1835-1913) and Joseph Strong (1852-1899) were considered the founders of what became called the ‘Volcano School’ of painting in Hawaii, and are regarded by many as the ‘old masters’ of Hawaiian painting. Although he worked less than five years in Hawaii, Tavernier is often referred to as the premier interpreter of the volcano. Many other artists picked up the theme that he had started.

Many commissions followed for Tavernier, both for volcano paintings and views of scenic places, as well as portraits. He worked on the island of Hawaii, painting Kilauea Volcano, as well as the area around the city of Hilo. His images grew increasingly grand, and he even came up with the idea of a gigantic volcano panoramic canvas, which envisioned would travel the country.

This panorama, Tavernier’s largest volcano painting, was a canvas of vast proportion, twelve feet high by ninety feet long, and was intended to be experienced as a circular view from a stand in the center. The panorama opened to the public in Hilo in 1886 and later in Honolulu, but was little exhibited after that.

His debts and drinking continued to cause problems, and he ran up large bills for canvas, paints, and frames, often with King Brothers’ art store on Hotel Street in Honolulu. Discouraged, Lizzie left him in 1887, and returned to San Francisco. Jules was unable to leave Hawaii, as it was required that debts be paid before people set sail from the islands. The Hitchcock family of Hilo befriended him and tried to help him regain his health. In addition to his drinking, he also suffered from asthma. David Howard Hitchcock (1861-1943), considerably younger than Jules, was Tavernier’s disciple and principal student and is himself highly regarded for his interpretation of the Hawaiian landscape. The two had met in Hilo on Tavernier’s initial trip to the island of Hawaii with Joseph Strong.

For awhile he re-worked some of his Western scenes from his Hilo studio. Other western scenes were found in his Honolulu studio after his death. Volcano paintings are most often associated with his work in Hawaii, but they were only a portion of his output there. His Hawaiian work included landscapes, pictures of waterfalls, still lifes, flowers, scenes of interiors, and portraits as well. Several of his landscapes are in a long horizontal format. Some are reminiscent of the French Barbizon style of painting that had been popular during Tavernier’s student days in France.

By 1889, Jules Tavernier had died of alcoholism at his studio on Hotel Street in Honolulu. He was buried at the Oahu Cemetery in Nuuanu Valley. His friends at the Bohemian Club, on hearing of his death, sent a marker for his grave.

  • TITLE: Italian Fisherman – Monterey
  • SIZE: 14″ X 18″
  • MEDIUM: Oil on Board
  • NOTES: A feast for the Eyes. The paintings of Seldon Connor Gile. A Retrospective Exhibition Civic Arts Gallery 1983

Train Cars with Grain

Tiburon Waterfront

Boats in Harbor

Blue Bridge in Marin

The major force behind the Society of Six in the 1920s in the Bay Area of California, Selden Gile set aesthetic standards that espoused color and guided the group with the strength of his personality, physical energy, and warm hospitality.

Departing from dominant decorative and Tonalist influences of Arthur Mathews and William Keith, the Society of Six created a new landscape art of sunny reality; it was Impressionism-Fauvism applied to the California Scene.  The other painters associated with Gile in this rebellion were Maurice Logan, William Clapp, Bernard von Eichman, August Gay, and Louis Siegriest.

Gile was born in Stow, Maine, to parents from Salem, England, and was named for Seldon Connor, Governor of Maine.  The family lived on a farm, but from childhood, he was regarded as different from his boisterous, carousing brothers because of his artistic talents and apparent refinement.  He completed high school in 1894 in Fryeburg and then lived with his brother Frank in Portland, Maine, where he attended Shaw’s Business College.  Frank was head chef at the landmark Lafayette Hotel in Portland and taught Gile cooking and convivial hosting, qualities that would later serve him well in California among his artist colleagues.

General Marshall Wentworth, owner of a hostelry in Jackson, New Hampshire, where Selden worked, took an interest in the young man and arranged a job as paymaster and clerk on a vast ranch in Rocklin, California, near Sacramento. Selden’s reasons for wanting to head West are unknown, but one of his brothers loaned him fifty dollars for the journey.  His job was dangerous, requiring him to deliver the payroll from the bank to the ranch, and he carried a gun which he sometimes used to defend himself.

He fell in love with Beryl Whitney, daughter of the ranch owners, and was deeply hurt when her parents, disapproving of the relationship, sent her away to Europe and she married another man.  From that time, he had an open aversion to women. In 1905, he moved to Oakland, California, and worked as a salesman of ceramic building materials for Gladding McBean whose products became crucial in the rebuilding of San Francisco after the earthquake.

He was basically self taught as an artist and with high energy and a sturdy build, had a capacity for long hiking trips and outdoor, plein-air painting that he pursued passionately.  Few of his early paintings of California survive, but most existing ones have barns, which became a repeated symbol in his work of the artist himself.

His talents as food and drink host and provider of lodging became legendary.  He shared his house with several aspiring artists and held dinners that he prepared with skill in what was described as an all-male, raucous atmosphere.  Friendship with writer Jack London underscored Gile’s seeking out of people that were creative, romantic, assertive, and working class.

With the Six, he exhibited regularly at the Oakland Art Gallery.  In 1927, he moved north to Tiburon across the Golden Gate Bridge and after that to a houseboat in Belvedere from where he continued to paint.  However, he also fell in with a heavy drinking crowd, which affected the quality of his work and caused him to fore-go his energetic plein-air painting treks.

Indicated by his painting, Desert Bridge, Holbrook, dated 1926, Gile traveled to Arizona where, according to author and gallery owner, Alfred Harrison, his subject was Holbrook, Arizona.   Several years later, according to Harrison, Gile was in Taos, New Mexico which resulted in his painting, Woman of Taos, dated 1931.  Further evidence of Gile being in Taos is his painting, Taos, New Mexico, dated 1924, which is in the collection of the Oakland Museum.

It is likely that Gile, who was Belvedere’s only WPA mural commission artist during the Depression years, was in Taos with fellow painter, Maurice Logan.  They returned to the Southwest in 1934 according to a front page column of the Oakland Tribune February 21 of that year.

On June 8, 1947, Selden Gile died from alcoholism and is buried at the cemetery at Mt. Tamalpais, a site he loved to paint.


Nancy Boas, Society of Six

Timothy Burgard, Ednah Root Curator of American Art (12/05/2006 email about Gile’s painting in NewMexico and Arizona)

Timothy Burgard and Alfred Harrison, “California Landscapes from the Willrich Collection”, American Art Review, 12/2006, p. 78

Michael and Genta Holmes, Art in the Residence of the American Ambassador, Australia (photo of Taos, New Mexico painting, 1924)



  • TITLE: Mid-summer Fantasy
  • SIZE: 20″ X 30″
  • MEDIUM: Oil on Canvas
  • SIGNED: Lower Left

A leading member of the avant-garde Symbolism* artists movement in Chicago, Claude Buck moved there from his birth place of New York City in 1919.  He was known for his “fantastic, sometimes disturbing images with allegorical and literary themes” (Kennedy 97) drawn from writings of Edgar Allen Poe, operas by Richard Wagner, classical mythology and “New Testament” writings from theBible.  Some of these early paintings had nude figures rendered in Classical* style to express abstract themes developed through dream-like landscapes and disregard of relative scale or relatedness between the figures.  These paintings had Luminist* elements achieved with light-toned paints worked with transparent glazes.

In the 1920s to earn money by gaining public favor and also expressing his increasing disdain for modernism, Buck did a number of hyperrealist* portraits, figures and still lifes.  These proved popular and aligned him with the opponents of abstraction and their Society for Sanity in Art* movement whose headquarters were in Chicago.

Buck taught drawing and painting at the Chicago Academy of Fine Art from 1921 to 1926, and at the Art Institute, where he took over classes of George Bellows.

In New York City before coming to Chicago, Buck had a reputation as a radical artist.  He took his first art training from his father, William R. Buck, from the time he was ages three to fourteen, and then until he was twenty-two, he studied at the National Academy of Design* where he was nicknamed “Kid Hassam” because his painting reminded viewers of that of Claude Hassam.  Buck worked as a scene painter in the theatre and at the Willet Stained Glass company, and in 1914 began portrait commissions to earn money.

In New York, he founded a group named the Introspectives, which reflected his own problems with melancholy during that period.  Members, holding their first exhibition at the Whitney Studio in 1917, were artists who expressed their personal feelings and experiences and included Raymond Jonson and Emil Armin. In this phase of his career, Buck was focused on Old World styles of Leonardo da Vinci, Ralph Blakelock and Albert Pinkham Ryder.  In 1929, the Arts Council of New York voted him one of the top one-hundred painters in the United States.

In 1949, Buck and his wife, Leslie, moved to California to a studio-home in the Santa Cruz Mountains, and ten years later they settled in Santa Barbara where he died on August 4, 1974.  In California, he was a member of the Carmel Art Association*, the Santa Cruz Art League* that he served as President in 1953,and the Santa Barbara Art Association.

His paintings are in the collections of the Santa Cruz Public Library; the Santa Cruz City Museum as well as the Spencer Museum in Lawrence, Kansas; the Brigham Young University Museum; and the Museum of Elgin, Illinois.

Elizabeth Kennedy, Editor; Chicago Modern, 1893-1945, Terra Museum of American Art
Edan Hughes, Artists in California, 1786-1940
Peter Hastings Falk, Editor, Who Was Who in American Art



  • TITLE: Pot and Shovel
  • SIZE: 10″ X 18″
  • MEDIUM: Oil on Board
  • SIGNED: Initialed

Terracotta Potts

Pewter Water Pot

Axton was born in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas on June 28, 1922.  Raised and educated on Army posts in various parts of the U.S.  Studied at the Georgia School of Technology, earned a BFA at the Kansas City Art Institute and School of Design (Missouri) in 1951, and a MFA from the Yale Univ. School of Fine Art in 1954 where he studied with Joseph Albers, Ad Reinhardt and Stuart Davis.

His early work was comprised of detailed abstract designs and patterns which comprised the whole.  Later his paintings concentrated on the details of realism, incorporating historical artifacts, primarily from the Southwest.  Taught design at the University of California, Berkeley in 1966.

Exhibitions: California Palace of the Legion of Honor, 1964; San Francisco Museum of Art, 1965.

John Thomas Axton III died September 4, 2009 at his home in Dolores Heights, San Francisco, California.

SourceSan Francisco Chronicle (October 2, 2009)

Susan Craig, “Biographical Dictionary of Kansas Artists (active before 1945)”
Who’s Who in American Art. New York: American Federation of Arts, 1936-1970; Falk, Peter, Ed. Who Was Who in American Art 1564-1975: 400 Years of Artists in America. Madison, CT: Sound View Press, c1999. 3v.;, accessed June 11, 2008.

This and over 1,750 other biographies can be found in Biographical Dictionary of Kansas Artists (active before 1945) compiled by Susan V. Craig, Art & Architecture Librarian at University of Kansas.



  • TITLE: KatWijk- Ann-Zee, Holland
  • SIZE: 13″ X 16″
  • MEDIUM: Oil on Canvas
  • SIGNED: Lower Left
  • DATED: 1888

Charles Rollo Peters, called “The Poet of Night”, is best known for his Tonalist landscapes, especially nocturnes, with much of his subject matter being scenes around his home in Monterey, California.   James McNeill Whistler, who promoted the Tonalist aesthetic in Europe,  was a major influence on his painting and “is reported to have said that Peters was the only artist other than himself who could paint nocturnes.” (Gerdts)  As Peters matured, his life became increasingly tumultuous, but the one stable part of his existence was his painting.  He continued to pour his emotions into his work, creating lonely, mysterious nocturnes with a palette of deep blues and blacks.  The scenes were invariably dotted with a speck of light emanating from the moon or a lighted window.  His landscapes usually displayed a more prominent sky view and often included a winding path or road trailing off in the distance.

Peters was born in San Francisco, California in 1862 to a wealthy family, and attended Bates Private School for Boys in San Francisco and the City College of San Francisco, where his talent for sketching and painting became obvious and was encouraged.  After graduation from the College, he spent time as a commercial artist, but this pursuit did not hold his interest.  In the mid 1880s, he began to study  privately with Jules Tavernier and also attended classes with Virgil Williams and Christian Jorgensen at the California School of Design.  During this period, he painted Bay-Area scenery.

In 1886 he began a four-year period of study and travel in Europe, enrolling in Paris at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and the Academie Julian.  His teachers were Jean-Leon Gerome and Fernand Cormon.

In San Francisco, where he returned in 1890, he met and married Kathleen Mary Murphy, and the couple immediately departed for an extended trip to England and France.  Peters painted the countryside and produced numerous landscape paintings, especially moonlit views of Brittany and Paris—his first nocturnes, encouraged by the aesthetic of Whistler, whose influence was pervasive in England and France.

Upon his return to California about 1895, Peters held a large show in San Francisco and was able to sell many of his works.  Soon after, he and his family relocated to Monterey, California where Peters became interested in California adobe ruins and missions as subjects for his paintings.  Night paintings with rich blues highlighted by moon light became his signature work.  Like most Tonalists, he painted in his studio.  It was written of him that Monterey residents often saw him “wandering about in the semi-darkness, taking down notes here and there, studying the different phases of light, and creating a vivid mental picture of the scene he wished to paint.”  (Lowrey 158).

In 1899, he made a tour with his collection of paintings through Chicago, Maine, Long Island, and New York City where he held a solo exhibition at the Union Club where he received very favorable publicity.  One reviewer of the Union Club work wrote: “The artist has studied the atmospheric effect of the night to good purpose, and in the representation of the silvery gray of moonlight he has arrived at singular proficiency.”

Peters returned to Monterey in 1900 and purchased thirty acres of land where he built an estate.  He exhibited in the annual exhibitions of the San Francisco Art Association and the Bohemian Club.  Along with William Keith, Xavier Martinez, Karl Neuhaus and Will Sparks, he established in Monterey the Del Monte Art Gallery, which was the first gallery focused exclusively on work by California-based artists.

The later part of his life was stricken with sadness and grief with the death of his wife in 1902 and daughter in 1904.  During this period, Peters began to compensate for his emotional losses by throwing lavish parties for his artist friends, sparing no expense. Following the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, his estate became the hub of activity for Bay Area artists.

In 1909, Peters met Mabel Prudhomme Easley, a sophisticated and worldly woman.  She was an artist who painted delicate landscapes and had recently shown her work in the San Francisco Bay Area when she met Peters.  They were soon married and spent a year in England where Peters had a very successful exhibition in London in 1910.  When the couple returned home to California it became evident that Peters spending had caught up with him.  Authorities foreclosed on his Monterey estate.  Suffering depression, he began to drink regularly which resulted in the deterioration of his health.  He and his wife separated in 1920 and Peters became ill soon after.  However, when Mabel heard the news of his illness, she returned and remained with him until his death in San Francisco in 1928.

Carol Lowrey, “Charles Rollo Peters”, The Poetic Vision: American Tonalism (Spanierman Galleries, LLC)
William Gerdts, “American Tonalism: An Artistic Overview”, The Poetic Vision: American Tonalism(Spanierman Galleries, LLC), p. 27
Edan Hughes, Artists in California, 1786-1940
Birgitta Hjalmarson, Artful Players: Artistic Life



  • TITLE: Los Angeles Market Scene
  • SIZE: 20″ X 24″
  • MEDIUM: Watercolor on Paper
  • SIGNED: Lower Right

Known as the intellectual and artistic leader of the California watercolor artists, Phil Dike was strongly influenced by avant-garde* painters Georgia O’Keeffe, John Marin, and Charles Burchfield.

He was born in Redlands, California, and was exposed to art from his childhood because his grandmother, Eliza Twigg, was a painter.  He first studied art in high school with Mary Louise Arnold whom Dike later described as so sombre and dressed in such heavy shoes that she looked “like Washington crossing the Delaware” (Edan Hughes).

In 1924, he began his art education at Chouinard Art Institute* in Los Angeles, and in 1928 went to the Art Students League* in New York where he studied with Frank DuMond and George Luks.  He traveled throughout Europe and studied for a year, 1930, in France at the American Academy of Fontainebleau, and exhibited at that time at the Paris Salon.

He returned to Los Angeles where he taught at Chouinard’s for twenty years and also worked in the fine art department of Walt Disney Studios where from 1934 to 1944, he was Color Coordinator and worked on animated classics including Fantasia and Snow White.   He was the first artist to put color into Disney animations*.

From 1950 to 1971, he was on the faculty of Scripps College and Claremont Graduate School.

He first went to Arizona in 1931 during the Depression and returned to paint copper mining scenes, where he depicted a thriving copper mining industry of both open pit and underground mines.  Some of his locations were Jerome, northwest of Phoenix, and Globe and Morenci east and south of Phoenix.

His paintings can be found at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio and the Pasadena Art Institute in California. He also did work in ceramic tile including the entrance of the St. San Antonio College Fine Arts Center and the pool area of Scripps College, and the chapel of Claremont Community Congregational Church.

Edan Hughes, Artists in California, 1786-1940
Peter Falk, Who Was Who in American Art



  • TITLE: Anne Lorraine Vollmer
  • SIZE: 25″ X 21″
  • MEDIUM: Oil on Canvas
  • SIGNED: Top Right
  • DATED: c.1925
  • NOTES: Featured in the book From a Versatile Brush, the LIFE of ART of JEAN MANNHEIM

Woman Reading


Woman in Kitchen

Born in Bad Kreuznach on the Nahe, Germany on Nov. 18, 1863.  After being drafted into the German army, Mannheim deserted and fled to France where he studied art at Ecole Delecluse, Académie Colarossi, and with DeLancey and Bouguereau.  Having learned book binding early in life, he used this trade to support himself while studying art in Paris.

Upon immigrating to Illinois in 1884, he painted portraits in Chicago and taught in a Decatur art school.  About 1903 he accepted a position at Frank Brangwyn’s school in London and stayed for two years.  Returning to the U.S., he taught at the Denver Art School until 1908. He then made his final move to Pasadena and built a home in the Arroyo Seco.  Mannheim maintained a studio in the Blanchard Building in Los Angeles where he exhibited and taught, and in 1913 founded the Stickney Memorial School of Fine Arts in Pasadena.  His figure studies and landscapes prior to 1915 were tighter and done with a restricted palette; whereas, his palette then lightened and he adopted the loose brushwork of Impressionism. He died in Pasadena on Sept. 6, 1945.

Member: Laguna Beach AA; Long Beach AA.

Exh: Paris Salon, 1897; Blanchard Gallery (LA), 1909; Alaska-Yukon Expo (Seattle), 1909 (gold medal); Calif. Art Club, 1911-31; Kanst Gallery (LA), 1912, 1918; Pasadena Art Inst., 1913, 1926, 1928; Throop College (Pasadena), 1914; Woman’s Clubhouse (Hollywood), 1914; Friday Morning Club (LA), 1914, 1940; Panama-Calif. Expo (San Diego), 1915 (gold & silver medals); LACMA, 1915, 1917, 1922; Pasadena Society of Artists, 1917-37; Painters & Sculptors of LA, 1922-24; Arizona State Fair, 1923 (1st prize); Southby Salon (LA), 1925; Painters of the West (LA), 1925-27; Biltmore Salon (LA), 1926; Ebell Club (LA), 1926, 1935, 1936, 1938; Sierra Madre City Hall, 1930; Gardena High School, 1934; Foundation of Western Art (LA), 1935-42; Academy of Western Painters (LA), 1935; Webb Gallery (LA), 1938; GGIE, 1939.

In: Orange County (CA) Museum; Long Beach Museum; Denver Museum; Irvine (CA) Museum.

Edan Hughes, “Artists in California, 1786-1940”
Southern California Artists (Nancy Moure); Who’s Who in America 1918; American Art Annual 1919-29;Plein Air Painters (Ruth Westphal); Art in California (R. L. Bernier, 1916); Overland Monthly, Sept. 1933;Who’s Who in American Art 1936-41; So. Calif. Artists 1890-1940; Los Angeles Times, 4-5-1936 & 9-8-1945 (obituary).



  • TITLE: Horses in Autumn Trees
  • SIZE: 30″ X 40″
  • MEDIUM: Oil on Canvas
  • SIGNED: Lower Right

Monterey Bay

Tabal Hotel

Seaside View

S.C. Yuan, is considered one of the finest painters to come out of the Monterey Peninsula.  A “painter’s painter”, he did work which was favored by contemporary painters who marvel at his effortless technique. “Yuan’s strength as an artist was his ability to communicate a wealth of visual information with swift and concise markings,” says Kathleen Moodie, Curator at the Museum of Art and History in Santa Cruz. “Yuan fused an Eastern elegance of economic line with the robust energy of Western abstraction,” she added in the catalogue for an upcoming show of Yuan’s works.

Yuan said that “Color is like pouring Tabasco sauce over one’s dinner.  Color ruins painting.” A friend explained how Yuan tamed colors:  “After he finished a painting, he would scoop the remainder of the wet paint off the palette into a quart jar. This was the gold, precious stuff. He would start his new paintings from this jar of old paint. “Turp” was added to the mixture from time to time.” Some tabasco!

Yuan was a Western-style painter who happened to grow up in China and made an important contribution to the art of Carmel.  As he becomes better known, much will be made, unnecessarily, about his Eastern origin.  He squinted, didn’t clean his brushes too well, and used paint sludge to produce a subdued palette that reflected the moodiness of his heart.

His training was classical French via Xu Beihong, one of China’s greatest 20th Century painters.  A thoughtful friend and fellow painter, Keith Lindberg, said that the Chinese line and Armin Hansen were the two greatest influences in Yuan’s work. Yuan also admired William Ritschel.

Cutting his life short to match his father’s time on earth, Yuan worked feverishly during the 25 years he lived on the Monterey peninsula.  He was born in 1911 in the southern Chinese province of Chikiang to a Kuomintang colonel.  Although a first-born son, he was shunted aside by his mother who favored the second born, a daughter.  She sent him to live 40 miles away with his grandparents. Yuan did not have to imagine rejection; it was real.

He grew up, then, not only without his family, but also in a country where East and West were clashing, leaving no middle ground for observers. He must have been affected by the struggle between the moderate, bourgeois Chiang Kai-Shek and the radical dictator of the proletariat, as they staggered across China struggling to replace feudalism.  But, in America, he never spoke publicly about either misfortune.

But, artists don’t need social upheaval to struggle.  Painting and eating are demanding appetites. Yuan’s first job in the Peninsula,1952, was at the Highlands Inn.  His first show was at the Monterey Defense Language Institute, 1953, where he worked as an instructor.  By 1955, his wife Jen-Chi became, and remained, the principal financial support of their family.  That same year, he opened a gallery on Alvarado Street in Monterey and joined the Carmel Art Association.  Throughout his marriage, he astonished Jen-Chi, buying Porsches, secretly borrowing from the banks, taking extravagant trips, and making friends with women visiting Carmel who were often surprised to discover a Mrs. Yuan.

He signed his early paintings “Wellington Yuan,” honoring the last Kuomintang Ambassador to the U.S.  Throughout his career, he occasionally signed his works with the chop symbol for “no name.” And on one occasion he even used the name “Zambini” to disguise his entry of an abstract work in an art competition, fearing that judges would not fairly evaluate the painting since it was such a departure from his regular work.  He won the competition – Best of Show, Monterey County Fair.

Throughout the 1950’s, he entered many shows, won many awards, and showed both Eastern and Western styles.  In 1957, he moved to Carmel.  In 1958, his second-born child died, and he stopped painting for months.  He opened a restaurant on Cannery Row, which failed because his non-egg roll menu was too sophisticated for the times.  By the end of the year, he had his first one-man show, at the Carmel Art Association.  One review noted that his painting was loosening up, letting go of the cameras view of nature.

During the 1960’s, he began traveling, often lavishly, to Europe.  Most of his time he took pictures instead of painting, and told his friends that it gave him material for the scenes people liked to buy.  He was generous with his disdain to both collectors and gallery owners.  Once, when he overheard prospective clients deciding that only one part of his painting worked, he tore out the studied section and offered it for sale, as is.  On other occasions he was known to barge into galleries and sabotage sales in progress.

He financed his first trip to Europe from a $6,000 commission he received for painting a fruit and vegetable mural in the Monte Mart Market in Salinas.  In Europe, he ordered a Mercedes, bought fine Italian suits for himself and dresses for Jen-Chi (which were inexplicably grossly oversized), and quickly ran out of money.  On another trip he sailed with his Cadillac, which he had to send back after finding that he could not pass through the narrow streets of Europe.

He won “Best of Show” at the Monterey Peninsula Museum of Art in 1967, which led to a one-man show there in 1968.  In 1969, he was back in the restaurant business, opening up the Merry Peach in Carmel Valley, which he filled to the ceiling with his paintings.

Paintings he didn’t like, he stored under his house; the favorites were piled everywhere else.  He saved his “chickens” (the best of his paintings) for his daughter Rae, so she would never have to work; and he tried to sell only the “eggs” (copies of the chickens).  When Sheila Shepard, his last student, helped him move, he became frustrated and angry because she tried to evade his questions about which paintings to save.  He started a bonfire in his backyard and began burning some of his paintings, including one that he told her was a “$10,000.00 Hansen.”

His last one-man show was at the Pacific Grove Art Center in 1972.  Thereafter, Jen-Chi finally left him – perhaps exasperated with his moodiness, flippancy, and self-indulgence.  His grief over the lost marriage dove-tailed neatly, however, with his occasionally shared prediction that he would not outlive his fathers age; and in his last two years he painted furiously, producing some of his finest work.

On September 4, 1974, he hung his last show at the Carmel Art Association.  Two days later he killed himself.  After three days of shock and mourning, his fellow members bought out almost the entire show.

Yuan said that “Art should have something to say to the viewer, and only then is it honest art, which has permanent value.”  His moodiness is the most honest trait in his paintings and in his life.  And the skill with which he expressed that moodiness places him with the best of the Monterey school. He fits easily between Hansen’s bold and colorful exaltation of the majestic sea and Fortunes exquisite overview of the Peninsula. Yuan’s still lives will appear in a traveling museum show beginning in June.

Submitted by Sarah Bessera

S.C. Yuan
, 1994, by the Carmel Art Association
Sarah Bessera, The Plein Air Scene: Featured Historic Artist S.C. Yuan 1911-1974