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Mount Shasta as a Visual Resource

The San Francisco Art Boom: 1860s-1880s

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More artists of Mount Shasta were spawned by the San Francisco art boom of the 1860s and 1870s than by any other phenomenon. The wealth generated by the Gold Rush, the Railroad, the Comstock Lode, banking, and commerce, created a very favorable climate for artists. People like the Stanfords, the Crockers, the Hopkins and the rest of San Francisco society were buying art. Landscape paintings of famous places in the West were eagerly bought, and the current doings of the artists, where they were now and what they were painting, was duly reported in the papers and periodicals.

In 1871 the San Francisco Art Association was founded; its purpose was to band the artists together for fellowship and exhibitions. William Keith, Thomas Hill, and its president, Juan B. Wandesforde133, were all founding members who had earlier painted scenes of Mount Shasta. (The connection to Britain was very strong. Keith and Wandesforde were born in Scotland, Hill was born in England.) Many more artists who would eventually join the Association had already or would later paint Mount Shasta. These included some of the most talented and best trained, like Raymond Yelland, Gilbert Munger, Thaddeus Welch, and Theodore D'Estrella. Other artists of the Association, such as Ransom Holdredge, Frederick Schafer, Carlos Hittell, Meyer Strauss, Harry and Arthur Best, James Stuart, Hiram Bloomer, Sydney Yard, Charles Robinson, and many others, at one time or another, came to Mount Shasta to paint.

In 1874 the Association opened an art school, the California School of Design, and they patterned the curriculum on the Ecole des Beaux-Arts of Paris, the Munich Academy of Art, and the National Academy in New York City.134 Standards were high and the training was traditional and rigorous. It is interesting to note that almost every successful landscape artist in San Francisco at this time had spent or was about to spend a year or more of art study at one of the great European art centers of the era, at Paris, Munich, or Dusseldorf.

Unfortunately, by the 1880s, the influences from Europe caused a change in the artistic taste of San Francisco society and of the country as a whole. The traditional art of the Europeans was in vogue and also there were new ways of painting coming from Europe, particularly from the village of Barbizon outside of Paris. In addition, the public probably just was ready for a change. Whatever the case, many artists, even great painters like Albert Bierstadt, nearly went broke trying to paint in their formerly successful but now old-fashioned styles.

But as to the heyday of the boom, it was really something. William Keith reminisced in 1895:

How shall I begin? I puzzled sorely over this question when the Call's request for an art essay reached me. Finally the answer came, quite as an inspiration--at the beginning. So I turned back to the days of Marple and Young--to the early days of art in S.F. Ought I to say "art". I am in doubt, for I mean the early '60s and that period immediately succeeding the close of the war. But I will let it stand.

Everything and anything in the semblance of a picture sold then. An art wave swept over California. I shall stick to the word now--and everybody bought pictures. Those were the halcyon days for painters in this City. The people had money, had more of it than they needed, so they bought art works generously. Even chromos commanded big prices. I remember that Marple copied a chromo of Bierstadt's "Sunset in California" and sold it for a handsome sum. He did not even pretend that it was more than a copy. Those were also Bierstadt's halcyon days. Men who could mix colors and put colors on canvas had no trouble in selling the finished canvas. Some of those who sold pictures here in those days could do more than mix colors, and some few could even paint pictures that were deservedly ranked as works of art - but the later number were not large. I like to dwell upon those days, because S.F. artists found home appreciation then, and, what is better, a home market. The wealthy people of California bought pictures painted by California artists. The country was young then and men could see the poetry and romance and the art that lay at their own doors....135

Juan Buckingham Wandesforde (1817-1902)

Wandesforde was a Scottish aristocrat related to the Earls of Wandesforde. He gave up being a drawing teacher at the Glasgow Collegiate and Communal Academy and came to New York about 1850. During that year he became a founding member of the New York Water Color Society ( other founding members were such artists as Jasper Cropsey and John Henry Hill).136 He was noted for portraiture, having done likenesses of artist and inventor Samuel F.B. Morse and artist J.W. Kensett. While in New York he was once commissioned to go to Montreal to paint a portrait of the visiting Prince of Wales, when the latter came to North America.137 Wandesforde himself was also a well traveled individual, having visited places as far away as India.

Wandesforde arrived in California around 1860. Although he was a capable portraitist, his extensive training in the English watercolor tradition eventually made him one of the most respected landscape painters in California. He influenced other artists in California because his technical skills, learned from the English watercolor painters, were an obvious asset to any painter. Naturally enough, his work is similar in style to the American Hudson River school painters, for both he and those East Coast artists found technique and inspiration in the English watercolor tradition.

In California, Wandesforde was one of the first independent, self-motivated and self-employed painters to come to Mount Shasta. His earliest watercolor of Mount Shasta was done in 1863 and later he produced at least five more views of the mountain, in watercolors and oils. He also made views of Castle Crags, the Trinity Alps, and other Siskiyou County Scenes.138

Watercolor of Mount Shasta by Juan Buckingham Wandesforde circa 1863. Courtesy Turtle Bay Exploration Park, Redding, California - tall white mountain in clouds with lake, trees and horses in foreground
Mount Shasta by Juan Buckingham Wandesforde.
Watercolor. Circa 1863.
Courtesy Turtle Bay Exploration Park, Redding, California.

The Daily Evening Bulletin of August 22, 1867, reviewed some of Wandesforde's Mount Shasta paintings:

Mount Shasta Wandesforde has studied more closely than ever an artist did before, at various times of day from early morning till somber evening. A large view in oil is just completed and is a very striking picture. It shows the mountain eleven miles off as seen from the sage bush plain with its wintry willow fringed streamlet at evening. The conical peak rises like a pyramid, its huge base dark with the shadow of approaching night, its snowy summit still flashing in the last rays of the sun, rose tinted and transparent like a jewel, while the saffron sky behind deepens into orange, true twilight colors which every Californian has observed. This is doubtless the most correct view of Mount Shasta ever painted. A smaller view sketched in oil on the spot shows the peak of a dull white color at early morning and is noticeable for the fine treatment of the mountains in the middle distance bristling with their ranks of receding pines. Some of the above landscapes will ere long be placed where the public may see them..."139

In 1868, the Overland Monthly magazine reviewed Wandesforde and said:

Foremost among these may rank J.B. Wandesforde, a cultivated English artist who was a pupil in his boyhood of Varley, the father of English watercolorists and later of Le Capelaine, and always of nature; traveling a great deal in many parts of the world, always observantly sketching and thus acquiring that readiness and accuracy as a draughtsman which still distinguish him. Mr. Wandesforde came to America in 1850, making his home in New York, where he painted in both oil and watercolor, exhibited at the National Academy, became one of the earliest members of the Century Club, and established a good reputation. His watercolor portraits and landscapes were especially admired for purity of color and gracefulness of form and sentiment.

After coming to San Francisco he was employed mostly in portraiture and teaching for several years. During the past two years he has given much attention to landscape studies, both in oil and watercolors, and has made sketching tours to the Shasta and Trinity mountains, to Clear Lake and adjacent Coast Range sites of the Sierra Nevada. He had produced the most satisfactory views of Mount Shasta and Mount Diablo we have seen. A large water color of the former is probably the finest single mountain piece produced here by any artist. A fine piece in water color with a pot of violets is worthy of Hunt. Mr. Wandesforde's studies of California mountain and lake scenery are extremely faithful. His method in all his work is conscientious. He has exerted an excellent influence on several young artists here, and both as painter and tutor is doing much to popularize Art140

Mount Shasta by Juan Buckingham Wandesforde - centered a white mountain with purple rolling hills in foreground and trees and rock in near foreground creating a valley to view mountain through
Watercolor of Mount Shasta by Juan Buckingham Wandesforde.
From: Jeanne Van Nostrand. The First Hundred Years of Painting in California. San Francisco: John Howell Books, 1980.

Wandesforde produced six illustrations for The Golden Gate by James Linen, published by Bosqui and Company, S.F., in 1869. These later illustrations entitled Wandesforde to be noted in the book Early American Book Illustrators and Wood Engravers, 1670-1870.141 He also contributed several sketches to Edward Vischer's book Pictorial California, published in 1870. Late in his life, Wandesforde's home burned and much of the distinguished artist's work was destroyed.

Frederick A. Butman (1820-1871)

Frederick Butman's 1864 large oil painting of Mount Shasta, now part of the collection of the University of California at Berkeley, is one of the oldest painted views of Mount Shasta by a California artist still in existence; as far as is known, only Wandesforde's 1863 watercolor and Bierstadt's 1863 oil sketch are older and still extant. Another equally luminous work is on display at the Bancroft Library.

One of oldest paintings of Mount Shasta by Frederick Butman. Courtesy U.C. Berkeley - tall bright white mountain in center with purple rolling hills, large valley floor in golden tones with river flowing through
Oil painting of Mount Shasta by Frederick Butman.
Courtesy of the Bancroft Library, University of California Berkeley.

Dwight Miller, professor of Art History at Stanford, writes as follows about Butman's large 1864 Mount Shasta scene-

This superb example of 19th-century American landscape painting indicates Butman's place among the very best of the San Francisco painters. The crisp, deft execution, the cleanness and resonance of the coloring with a tasteful, unaffected richness of hue, the sensitive phrasing of the successive landscape planes, are all exceptionally fine.142
Two other of Butman's Mount Shasta paintings are known, and there may have been several more.

Butman was an artist from Maine who came to California in the late 1850s. Like Wandesforde, Butman's reputation was widespread and his activities were chronicled in the San Francisco newspapers. An essay written in 1868 states that "his pictures were fresh and showy, appealed strongly to local taste, and from 1860 to 1865 gave him a greater share of popularity and success than enjoyed by any other painter."143 His work was important as it helped, along with the 1863 visit by Bierstadt to California, to give impetus to landscape painting by California artists.

It also seems reasonable to say that the presence of major artists like Wandesforde, Butman, and Bierstadt at Mount Shasta in 1863 and 1864, and the exhibitions of the resulting paintings, established the mountain as a required subject matter for the next generation of San Francisco landscape painters.

Gilbert Munger (1837-1903)

"A HEAVY JOB OF PAINTING.- A bay paper, says the Sacramento Reporter, states that Munger has gone to Mount Shasta for the purpose of painting it. He has an immense job on hand and will use a vast amount of paint before it is completed." That quote from the Yreka Journal, Dec. 7, 1870, illustrating that even journalists cannot resist making easy jokes. Munger's mission to Mount Shasta was actually a bit more serious. Munger was working on Clarence King's 40th Parallel survey team which had come to climb and circumnavigate Mount Shasta. Munger had already worked the previous year, 1869, as guest artist with King in the Rocky Mountains. The second year, 1870, found King with funds to explore the Cascade mountains and Munger was asked again to join the party. The reknowned photographer Carleton Watkins was there at Shasta too, capturing the mountain in black and white negatives. But Munger would paint on canvas the details and color of geography and geology which black and white negatives could not convey. The work of Munger and Watkins was a fine combining of two artistic visions in the name of science.

Clarence King lies in the foreground smoking his pipe. Munger is at work on a Shasta painting. Frederick Clark checks out his transit. Watkins' studio wagon with camera perched on top is at the left behind the fence.  Courtesy of Michael Schroeder at the Gilbert Munger Web Site.
Clarence King lies in the foreground smoking his pipe. Munger is at work on a Shasta painting. Frederick Clark checks out his transit. Watkins' studio wagon with camera perched on top is at the left behind the fence.
Courtesy of Michael Schroeder at the Gilbert Munger Web Site.

King, in the extraordinary 1871 book "Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada," would write about Munger's presence. "When our tents were pitched at Sisson's, while a picturesque haze floated up from the southward, we enjoyed the grand, uncertain form of Shasta, with its heaven-piercing crests of white, and wide, placid sweep of base; full of lines as deeply reposeful as a Greek temple. Its dark head lifted among the fading stars of dawn, and, strongly set upon the arch of coming rose, appealed to our emotions; but best we liked to sit at evening near Munger's easel, watching the great lava cone glow with light almost as wild and lurid as if its crater still streamed." [Clarence King. Chapter 11, Mountaineering]. It should be remembered that King had been a member of a Yale artist's group which found great inspiration in the art philosophy of John Ruskin, and that appreciating and collecting artworks was a lifelong passion for King. King's interest in art helps explain the metaphoric and artistic language which reverberates throughout King's writing.

In a following passage King again mentions Munger: "The California haze had again enveloped Shasta, this time nearly obscuring it. In forest along the southeast base, we came upon the stream flowing from McCloud Glacier, its cold waters milky white with fine, sandy sediment. Such dense, impenetrable fields of chaparral cover the south foothills that we were only able to fight our way through limited parts, getting, however, a clear idea of lava flows and topography. Farther east, the plains rise to seven thousand feet, and fine wood ridges sweep down from Shasta, inviting approach. While Munger and Watkins camped to make studies and negatives of the peak, Frank Clark and I packed one mule with a week's provisions, and, mounting our saddle-animals, struck off into dark, silent forest. ." [Clarence King. Chapter 12, Mountaineering] Note that one of Munger's paintings appears to have been sketched or painted from this southeast side of Shasta's base (see the Schroeder, Michael D.. "The Munger Web Site", painting ID#9 "Mount Shasta.")

Munger's presence with the King party at Sheep Rock in the Shasta valley was noted in a diary kept by another artist, the young Oregonian artist Thaddeus Welch, who was there on his own sketching and exploring at Shasta. Welch wrote: "I had my paints and brushes along, nothing smaller than Mt. Shasta would do those days. We were four or five days making the trip. At old Fort Crook, on Fall River I left the others and rode in a lumber wagon to Sherp Rock, on the North fork of the Shasta Butte, where I made a number of sketches. At the same time, Clarence King with his party of geological surveyors were at the same place. Gilbert Munger, the artist, and Watkins the photographer were also of the party. H.R. Bloomer was Sisson's on the West side, so there wasn't much danger of Shasta getting away. [Broekhoff, Helen V. Thad Welch Pioneer and Painter, Oakland Art Museum, 1966. First published in Overland Monthly and Out West Magazine in 1924.]

Mount Shasta oil on canvas by Gilbert Munger courtesy of Michael D. Schroeder and The Gilbert Munger Web Site - tall single peaked mountain with pine trees on rolling hills in foreground
Mount Shasta by Gilbert Munger.
Oil on canvas. Circa 1867.
Courtesy of Michael D. Schroeder and The Gilbert Munger Web Site.

Munger's association with Clarence King is honored in Fresno County, where the California peak named "Mount Munger" exists in the same general vicinity as "Mount Clarence King" and "Mount Ruskin."

Munger's reputation was significant enough in the 1870's booming San Francisco art world to cause him to be the subject of interest in newspaper columns such as "Art Gossip" and "What Our Artists are Doing," For example, it was written that: "Munger has returned from his sketching tour with a capital collection of sketches. He has worked along all the way from the summit of the Sierras to Lake Tahoe, and his portfolio is consequently rich in good things" [quoted in- Miller, Dwight. California Landscape Painting, 1860-1885: Artists Around Keith and Hill. Stanford Art Gallery, 1976, p. 11.]

The best starting point for information about Munger is undoubtedly "The Gilbert Munger Web Site" by Michael D. Schroeder. Mr. Schroeder, a computer scientist and art historian, has created an exemplary model of a web site devoted to the life and works of a single artist. The site includes a comprehensive visual catalog of about 200 of Munger's paintings, arranged by geographical locale. The catalog includes two paintings of Mount Shasta: "Mount Shasta with Indians" (15 by 30 inches) and "Mount Shasta" (19 by 34.5 inches).

As a side note, it was the discovery of active glaciers on Mount Shasta which enthralled King, and reinforced his tempered belief in so-called 'catastrophic' geological change- thus putting him at odds with most of the geologists of his time [see Burch, Keith. Clarence King, Catastrophism, and California. In:California History, Fall, 1993. pp. 234-250]

Thaddeus Welch (1844-1919)

Early self-portrait of Thaddeus Welch.  From:  Helen V. Broekhoff.  Thad Welch:  Pioneer and Painter.  Oakland:  Oakland Art Museum, 1966 - portrait of scowling man with full mustache and beard Many of the younger California artists, less trained and less successful than someone like Wandesforde or Butman, made do as best they could. Thaddeus Welch, an Oregonian who migrated down to California, may be more typical of the California landscape artist of his era. He writes, in 1870144:

In the meantime, several of us determined to hunt a cool place when the summer's work should be over. Our party consisted of four besides myself. A two-horse team and wagon carried us and our camping outfit. Our destination was Fall River Valley, East of Mount Shasta. I had my paints and brushes along; nothing smaller than Mount Shasta would do those days.

We were four or five days making the trip. At old Fort Crook on Fall River I left the others and rode in a lumber wagon to Sherp Rock, on the north fork of the Shasta Butte, where I made a number of sketches. At the same time, Clarence King with his party of geological surveyors were at the same place. Gilbert Munger, the artist, and Watkins the photographer were also in the party. H.R. Bloomer [another early California artist] was at Sisson's on the West side, so there wasn't much chance of Shasta getting away. Where I was, there was nothing but sand and sagebrush, rocks and rattlesnakes. One day I sat on a pile of lava that stuck out of the sand, and painted for several hours. I heard something rattle, but I paid no attention thinking that I had perchance pushed against a rattle weed. The next day I took a look under the rock where I had been seated and there he was as comfortable as you please. He had been only six inches from my heel all the time I was painting the day before.

No other incident occurred to disturb my happy dreams, until my bęte noire, penury, was again on my track and I saw I must give Shasta a rest while I took a walk to Yreka to see how the printing business was flourishing. But there was no show for a stranger and the prospect commenced to look pretty blue... Wandering around without a nickel among strangers, I had about come to the conclusion that an artist's life is not what it is cracked up to be.145

Mount Shasta by Thaddeus Welch, 1874 courtesy Butterfield and Butterfield - tall white mountain with rolling hills in foreground, with golden meadow with covered wagons and people and a flowing creek
Mount Shasta by Thaddeus Welch, signed and dated 1874.
Oil on canvas, 30 by 50 inches.
From: Butterfield and Butterfield. American and California Paintings and Sculpture (auction catalog), June 15, 1995; Sale 6254, lot 4165.

Welch's story ultimately had a happy ending. His talent was recognized by some friends and art patrons, and he was sent to Europe to study at the art centers of Paris and Munich; he returned to California, and became a successful painter of landscapes to the point that forgeries bearing his name were found even during his lifetime. A large collection of his landscape paintings is on permanent display at the Shasta State Historical Park Museum, in Shasta City, California. That museum also holds a major collection of early California art which was collected during the 1920s by Mrs. Helen Boggs, a noted philanthropist and California historian.

Hiram Reynolds Bloomer (1845-1911)

Hiram Bloomer was one of the early members of the San Francisco Art Association. He was a pupil of Thomas Hill and J.B. Wandesforde146 Thaddeus Welch mentions that Bloomer was at Sisson's in 1870. It might have been at this time that Bloomer painted the picture of Mount Shasta in which Sisson himself was a subject. Sisson's daughter mentions this painting:

...another struggling young painter, Henry [sic] Bloomer, who afterward became nationally known, painted a picture of Mount Shasta with Father in his red hunting shirt wending his way along the trail on 'Old Bob'.147 [Old Bob was Sisson's remarkable and trustworthy horse.]

'Mount Shasta, from Castle Lake' by Thomas Moran after H.R. Bloomer's painting courtesy of the Mount Shasta Collection - penciled drawing of tall mountain with jagged hills in front, pine trees to the right and left of forefrong and stream in foreground
Mount Shasta, from Castle Lake. Drawn by Thomas Moran from a sketch by H.G. Bloomer.
From: Benjamin Parke Avery. California Pictures in Prose and Verse. New York: Hurd and Houghton, 1878.
Courtesy of the College of the Siskiyous Library Mount Shasta Collection.

Welch mentions that Bloomer and author Robert Louis Stevenson were at Ganz, a suburb of Paris, in the late 1870s. Welch met them there by accident one day148. This chance meeting underscores the fact that it was very common for the San Francisco artists like Bloomer and Welch to study and tour in Europe. It can be said that the California artists of this time were absorbing a variety of the techniques and ideas of the European art traditions and they brought those influences back to California.

Carlos Hittell (1861-1938)

Carlos Hittell was a good friend and companion to William Keith. "Carlos was a refined and jolly companion," relates Mrs. Keith, "and a great and intelligent traveler. "149

Hittell was a successful artist, European trained and highly educated. He traveled in 1884 to Munich with Keith, and studied at the Royal Academy in Munich, staying there for four years. He then spent several more years at the Academie Julien in Paris. He gained considerable notoriety wearing full cowboy gear, hat, chaps and spurs, on the Champs Elysees in Paris.

Carlos was no stranger to California's far north. A large Mount Shasta painting, titled Shasta Butte from the Sacramento River Canyon, 1895 by Hittell, and which is now in the Shasta Courthouse Museum near Redding, is one of the most realistic and at the same time subtly colorful images ever made of the mountain.

Shasta Butte from the Sacramento River Canyon, 1895 by Carlos Hittell courtesy Boggs Collection, Shasta Courthouse Museum, California State Parks. Photo 1987 by W.C. Miesse - tall two peaked mountain in upper center with hills flowing in to long valley, a lake in foregound and tall pine trees
Shasta Butte from the Sacramento River Canyon, 1895 by Carlos Hittell.
Courtesy Boggs Collection, Shasta Courthouse Museum, California State Parks.

Both his father, T.H. Hittell and his uncle, J.S. Hittell, a Shasta County pioneer, were famous California historians. Carlos helped illustrate a few of their books, and he also did illustrations for California author Mary Austin.150. Additionally, Hittell did scientific illustrations for Dr. C. Hart Merriam, a scientist who in 1899 published the definitive Biological Survey of Mount Shasta.

Unsigned painting of Mount Shasta by Carlos Hittell; provenance from the estate of Carlos Hittell. Courtesy Turtle Bay Exploration Park, Redding, California - tall two peaked mountain with hills flowing from sides of painting to center highlighting mountian
Unsigned oil sketch on canvas of Mount Shasta from the estate of Carlos Hittell.
Courtesy Turtle Bay Exploration Park, Redding, California.

Carlos Hittell is also noted for work with two science museums. On the West Coast, he painted background scenes for the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at U.C. Berkeley. On the East coast, in New York City, he produced seven large background scenes for dioramas at the American Museum of Natural History. One of these scenes is titled "The White Pelican nesting islands on lower Klamath Lake, California and Oregon"

Ransom Gillette Holdredge (1836-1899)

An obituary, April 15, 1899, from a San Francisco Newspaper, is here quoted in full as it is the source of many subsequent accounts of his life. It should be added that Holdredge was born in England, though it is not known when he came to the U.S. or California.

R.G. Holdredge, artist and well known character about town, who claimed to be one of the originators of the Bohemian Club of San Francisco, died this afternoon at the county infirmary. Holdredge was taken to the infirmary yesterday, penniless and hungry, and although his acquaintances here expected that his end was not far off, it was not thought that he would be called so soon to render his formal account.

Holdredge has had a remarkable career. Before he took up the study of art he was head draughtsman at Mare Island. His natural genius was recognized by his friends, and they assisted him to go to Paris, where he studied under the great masters. After traveling extensively through Europe he returned to the Pacific Coast, where he soon gained the reputation of being one of the leading landscape artists of that day, taking rank with Hill and painters of equal note. He was one of the organizers of the Art Association, which subsequently developed into the Hopkins Art Academy. He was an early member of the Bohemian Club. He classed among his closest friends Charles Warren Stoddard, Robert Louis Stevenson and other well-known men of letters.

Holdredge made considerable money as an artist, but convivial habits started him on the decline, and when he came to Alameda, about ten years ago, he was all but penniless, but managed to eke out an existence with his brush and pallet. His ambition was to be a great portrait artist, but his natural talents turned toward landscapes. He has often stated that this was the disappointment of his life, and was the direct cause of leading him to drink.151

Mount Shasta by R.G. Holdredge. Courtesy Turtle Bay Exploration Park, Redding, California - mist covered lake in foregound with tall pine trees on left, tall snow peaked mountain in center rising above hills
Mount Shasta by R.G. Holdredge.
Courtesy Turtle Bay Exploration Park, Redding, California.

Holdredge spent part of the summer of 1873 in the Rocky mountains, drawing sketches from which he later did scores of major paintings, and he became known both during his life and afterwards as a Rocky Mountain painter. In actuality he was primarily a Californian resident.152 And we know Holdredge painted at least five different Mount Shasta canvases, which range widely in quality, and thus were done during years far apart. There is as well one painting of the 'Klamath Indians' ( a tribe of the Klamath Lake Basin in California and Oregon, just north of Mount Shasta), which art collector and historian Dr. Franz Stenzel has dated as being painted about 1878.153

Frederick Ferdinand Schafer (1839-1927)

The German born artist Frederick Schafer painted at least a dozen, if not many more, Mount Shasta scenes. These paintings range in size from the very small to quite large, and range in style from tight realism to loosely painted attempts at impressionism. At times his art approaches the quality of Thomas Hill or William Keith. At his best, he was a fine painter.

Mount Shasta from Castle Crags by Frederick Schafer courtesy of Maxwell Galleries - tall two peaked mountain in background with valley and river in foreground
Mount Shasta by Frederick Schafer.
Oil on canvas, 30 by 50 inches.
From: Jerome H. Saltser. Frederick Ferdinand Schafer Painting Catalog, Image Record img0548.
Photo credit: Maxwell Galleries, LTD., San Francisco.

Mount Shasta (from Castle Crags) unsigned painting by Frederick Schafer. Courtesy Turtle Bay Exploration Park, Redding, California - tall two peaked mountain viewed from across a valley from other mountain side It is often written that he was an alcoholic, and thus his work was intermittently good or bad. However this may not be true. An authority on Schafer wrote in 1971 that " He lived with his family continuously from 1880 to 1894 in Alameda and thereafter in Oakland until his death in 1927. A grandson, recently found, lived with him for 21 years said he was a 'family man' and most emphatically did not drink."154

Frederick Schafer arrived in the U.S. in 1876 or 1877. The dates of his living California are not certain, but judging from the variety of scenes that he painted, he must have traveled extensively throughout the Rocky Mountains and northern California.

One thing that seems unusual in Schafer's paintings of Mount Shasta is the almost invariable appearance of a portion of Castle Crags in each of these paintings. He also seems to have had special connections. "Some further information from Dr. Evans indicates that the painting of Mount Shasta viewed from Cape Horn was possible only with the special permission of Southern Pacific...only because he was let off at this famous curve (in Castle Crags.) Only work crews otherwise even stopped there. Cape Horn was accessible only by Railroad or ropes."155

Raymond Dabb Yelland (1848-1900)

Distinguished, literate, professorial, academic, dedicated, and with an untarnished reputation as an artist and teacher, R.D.Yelland is remembered as one of the stalwarts of the San Francisco art world. Born in England, his family brought him to America at age three. He studied at the country's leading art institute, the prestigious National Academy of Design in New York City; after graduation he continued on as an instructor. In 1874, at the age of 25, he moved to Oakland, Ca. as a professor of drawing and painting. He quickly gained a fine reputation as a teacher, and later assumed many responsible academic positions in the Bay area, including assistant directorship of the San Francisco Art Association, and directorship of the California School of Design.156

Yelland was a technically adept painter of the academic tradition. He had been trained from the time honored method of training the eye and hand through the drawing and painting of classical statues, and he taught his students in the same way. He developed in his students respect for the the value of knowledge as applied to painting. He was an expert painter, and was invited ,on his first trip to Europe, in 1886, to exhibit at the Paris Salon.157

Yelland may well have been influenced at that time in Paris by the original group of French Impressionists, who were having their eighth and final exhibition in Paris in 1886. Many of Yelland's works have strong affinities to these impressionist painters. The similarities of the pastoral landscape sketches of Yelland to those of the Frenchman Camille Pissaro are striking158.

Yelland was not against trying to adopt and experiment with many styles of painting, and he was successful in the realms of academic realism, Barbazon tonalism, and a modified impressionism. He was first and foremost a teacher, and he influenced an entire generation of future artists. A poem written in 1900 expresses the general respect accorded this artist:


They fill the long, long hall, the works that he
Has spread his heart on; for he loved his art,
And though clear eye and skillful hand had part
In all he painted, yet their witchery
Could not alone have made the things we see,-
The mystic redwoods where the sunbeams dart,
Great Shasta'a snowy cone, the very heart
Of stormy waves that dash resistlessly
Upon the rocks that ever beat them back,-
And dearer yet to him and so his best,
The gentler scenes about his home that lay,
The oaks, the lowlands where in wandering track
The sluggish waters creep, the glowing west,
As daylight fades across the shining bay.

Poem by Berekely poet Charles S. Greene159
September 28, 1900

Among Yelland's students were Abbot Thayer and Maynard Dixon, both of whom became influential American artists. Yelland also had several artist friends with whom he would go sketching; William Keith was numbered among them.

A letter by Yelland's niece mentions her uncle and Keith when they went together to Mount Whitney.

Uncle R.D. Yelland and Wm. Keith were close friends. Our brother Raymond climbed Mt. Whitney long ago with a Sierra Club group. Wandering about on or near the summit he discovered a tree where uncle R.D. Yelland and Wm. Keith had carved their names - Imagine that! Those two used to often go on sketching trips together.160

Yelland's association with Mount Shasta is not thoroughly documented. He traveled to Oregon in the early 1880s and perhaps began to paint in the Shasta area around that time. Catalog titles of paintings and drawings relating to the area include Sunset Light on Mount Shasta; Castle Crags, 1899; Mount Shasta (pastel); Mt. Shasta (watercolor); Mount Shasta; Green Valley, Klamath; and Mt. Shasta from Edgewood. During the last decade of his life Yelland painted at least one Mount Shasta oil in the darker and more sentiment filled Barbizon style. There is also a reference to a realistic Yelland masterpiece of Mount Shasta, quite large, three by six feet, date and current location unknown161.

Harry Cassie Best (1863-1936) and Arthur William Best (1859-1935)

In 1907 the Yosemite artist Harry Cassie Best showed paintings of Western scenery at an one-man exhibition held at the exclusive Washington D.C. Cosmos Club. President Theodore Roosevelt bought one of the paintings, a scene of Mount Shasta. A letter from the President states:

November 12, 1908
White House

Mr. H.C. Best,

Cosmos Club, Washington, D.C.

Dear Sir:-

I appreciate very much your painting, the "Afterglow on Mount Shasta," and shall give it the place of honor in my home. I consider the evening twilight on Mount Shasta one of the grandest sights I have ever witnessed. Kindest regards to Mrs. Best and little Virginia Best.

Yours truly,

Theodore Roosevelt

Acording to author George Warton James, there were many more paintings of Mount Shasta by the hand of H.C. Best:

Mount Shasta, morning noon and night, in cloud and sunshine, wreathed in smiles, frowns, tears and storm, has especially appealed to Mr. Best, and some of his most notable canvases have represented this glorious sentinel of the Northern Gateway to California's flowery glades. His early love and passion for the Oregon Mountains has found mature fulfilment here. One of his 'Sunsets on Mount Shasta' represents the mountain monarch under the glow of the evening sky. Oranges, pinks, peach-glows, soft tints and shades of blue, purple and rose-mist enswathe the snow-clad summit.

Oil painting of Mount Shasta by Harry Cassie Best courtesy of a private collector - tall snow covered two peaked mountain looming above valley floor of river, rocks and pine trees
Mount Shasta by Harry Cassie Best.
Oil on canvas.
Courtesy Private Collection.

Many of H.C. Best's Mount Shasta views have turned up in auction galleries during the past few years, and surely there are yet more to be uncovered. One caution, however, is that occassionaly Mount Hood paintings by H.C. Best, as well as Mount Hood paintings by the brother Arthur Best, have been catalogued, in at least two locations, as Mount Shasta paintings, which they are not.

Oil painting of Mount Shasta by Harry Cassie Best courtesy of a private collector - tall snow covered two peaked mountain looming above valle with river and pine trees in foreground
A View of Mount Shasta by H.C. Best.
Oil on canvas. 10 inch by 12 inch.
From: American and California Paintings and Sculpture. December 9, 1999. Sale 7076-D Lot 5224.
Courtesy Butterfields.

In any event, during the early turn of the century H.C. Best, and his brother Arthur William Best, were both well known painters of western scenes. Both men were born in Canada and came to the West as muscians, and in several minor orchestras they earned a living. They both turned to landscape art through natural inclination and according to James, for reasons of financial need. H.C. Best also made an attempt at political cartooning, with some success, having published cartoons in several S.F. newspapers.

At some point Thaddeus Welch, the successful landscape painter, asked H.C. Best to go with him to Yosemite. Obviously taken in by the beauty of that valley, H.C. Best eventually was granted permission to construct a fine studio building in the valley, and, incidently, after H.C. Best's daughter married Ansel Adams, the noted photographer, the studio became world famous as the Adams Studio.

George Wharton James, editor of Out West magazine, wrote a short biography of H.C. Best, and published it in the magazine in 1914. Years later it was reprinted as an illustrated pamphlet, titled Harry Cassie Best, Painter of the Yosemite Valley, California Oaks, and California Mountains. It may be that in that article that Mount Shasta was called for the first time "The California Fuji-San".162

Meyer Strauss (1831-1905)

Strauss has the distinction of being the only artist of the 19th century known to have painted a view of Mount Eddy (for those unfamiliar with the region, Mount Eddy is a large mountain directly west of Mount Shasta). He painted a few other Siskiyou County scenes, notably Sacramento River near Shasta Springs, New Trail to Shasta Springs, and Mt. Shasta, Eastern Slope as well as several scenes of the Siskiyou forests.163

Strauss was born in Bavaria in 1831. He came to the States in 1849 and earned a living in several cities by painting theater sets.164 He did so in San Francisco from 1875 to 1877, and thereafter became a landscape painter of some modest reknown. He was a member of the Bohemian Club and the San Francisco Art Association.

Edwin Deakin (1838-1923)

Edwin Deakin was born in 1838 in England. With his parents he moved to the U.S. in 1856 and to California in 1870. He was a prominent figure in the San Francisco art world until he died in 1923. There are records of several paintings of Mount Shasta by Edwin Deakin, but no reproductions of these recorded paintings have been found There is however, one painting, titled "Mill At Shasta" (oil on canvas, 25 by 42 inches) reproduced in the exhibition catalog "American Painting- A Comprehensive Exhibition February 23 thru April 7, 1973" , San Francisco: Maxwell Galleries Ltd., 1973., p.40. Note that the 'Shasta' referred to is most likely that of Shasta City, the old gold mining town three miles west of Redding California The painting, of an old, perhaps abandoned mill, underscores an important point about Deakin: he was known for having brought the notion of the "picturesque" into California.. According to Paul Mills, "Deakin's main artistic accomplishment, of which we have evidence in the 1873 sale, was to establish a 'picturesque' style in California. In this new land, where the sensitive eye had seen local buildings only as one hasty rawness succeeding another, Deakin was able to find subjects which allowed him to conjure up nostalgic, sentimental visions giving California something of the mood of George Morland, Joseph Turner and Richard Bonington and their English castles, towns and cottages-buildings which he knew in his childhood and which he was to revisit later. The concept of the Picturesque is deeply imbedded in the popular imagination today - in fact, in a diluted and simplified way, it underlies the modern cult of the tourist attraction. It is difficult now to imagine there was ever a time here in California when the old missions, and San Francisco's China town were not universally regarded as picturesque, but there was." [Paul Mills, quoted in. Mahoos, Ruth I. "A Gallery of California Mission Paintings by Edwin Deakin" Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, 1966., p. 12.]. Much of Deakin's work captured the charm of ruins and local exotic places.

Samuel Marsden Brooks Painting in his Studio.  Signed and dated by Edwin Deakin, 1876.  From Butterfield and Butterfield.  American and California Paintings and Sculpture (auction catalog), June 15, 1995; Sale 6254, lot 4168 - paint of man sitting in chair painting One of Deakin's most picturesque paintings is of a dilapidated art studio of his friend, the reknowned artist Samuel Mardsen Brookes. Interestingly enough, this painting relates to Mount Shasta because both Brookes and Deakin traveled to Mt. Shasta around the time that this painting was produced. Art historian Paul Mills writes that: "In 1876, it was reported that 'Brookes and Deakin had returned from Mount Shasta, and are hard at work upon the material obtained during their short trip. Deakin is at work upon a large picture of Shasta that give an idea of the height and grandeur rarely seen anywhere but in nature."[San Francisco Chronicle, October 30, 1876]. Brookes, also an Englishman, and Deakin were close friends, and there are evidences that Brookes was occasionally influenced by Deakin's style of painting stone. Deakin also did a charming painting in 1876, the year of their trip to Shasta together, of Brookes at the easel in his dilapidated studio." [Mills, in Mahoos, p. 12]. As a sidenote, Brookes had been hired by Spencer Fullerton Baird of the Smithsonian Institution, to travel to the Shasta region to paint color portraits of the Dolly Varden trout, these trout losing their color when killed and shipped back east; a painting was required to capture the true colors of these most interesting fish. Although Brookes did many fish paintings, it may well be that the fish in this painting by Deakin are the Dolly Varden. Note that a search by Smithsonian staff failed to locate the Brooke's paintings of the Dolly Varden (Miesse. Personal communications with the Smithsonian, circa 1992.) (Also, note that Spencer Fullerton Baird, because of his sponsership of Livingston Stone and the famous fish hatchery on the McCloud, was the namesake of the town of Baird now underwater under Shasta Lake).

"Peak of Mt. Shasta" 8 by 12 oil on board (identified by him, painted circa 1875).

Chris Jorgenson (1860-1935)

Chris Jorgensen, born in Oslo, Norway in 1860, emigrated to California at the age of ten. As a young man he lived in San Francisco and was talented but impoverished. Fortunately he was befriended by artists of that city's booming art world. He was given free training and eventually opened studios in both San Francisco and Oakland. He was squarely in the middle of the early California art awakening,. He was trained by influential teachers such as Virgil Williams, Thomas Hill, and Juan B. Wandesforde, and later he himself had his own notable students including Grace Carpenter Hudson and Charles Rollo Peters. For nearly twenty years Jorgensen lived and worked in a studio in the Yosemite Valley. Jorgensen also lived and worked in Carmel and is well-known for his association with the Monterey region. Only one Jorgenesen painting of Mount Shasta so far has been found in the art records, though given the wide range of his landscape subjects there are undoubtedly others. Jorgensen died in 1935. [see:Littell, Katherine Mather. "Chris Jorgensen- California Pioneer Artist." Sonora: Fine Arts Research Publishing Co., 1988.]

"Mt. Shasta, Siskiyou Co. Ca. " oil, 33 by 45, 1899.

James Everett Stuart (1852-1941)

James Everett Stuart began his art studies in San Francisco and studied at the San Francisco School of Design under R. D. Yelland and Virgil Williams. He became part of what is now called the San Francisco Art Boom of the 1870s, and from that time on he was a noted painter of the West Coast. His work ranged greatly in quality. James Everett Stuart painted over 5,000 pictures during his long art career, this fact known because beginning in 1900 he kept a journal of all of his work. Stuart paintings often have the location and price written on the back of the paintings; the price is usually very high, exorbitant even, and he would sell the art a a fraction of the price in times of need (source: Stenzel: An Art Perspective of the Pacific Northwest). Stuart was primarily a landscapist who had painted Mount Shasta perhaps over a hundred times. It is probable that from the mid-1870s to the mid-1930s Stuart was creating Mount Shasta artwork, and thus he was in a way the last true old-timer of the 19th Century California art world.

'Sunset Glow:  Mt. Shasta from Sisson's Cal.' by J.E. Stuart
"Sunset Glow: Mt. Shasta from Sisson's, Cal." painted October 30, 1921 by J.E. Stuart.
Courtesy Private Collection.

James Everett Stuart was asked if he was related to the famous portrait artist Gilbert Stuart, and he replied: "Perhaps, but we are not sure. I may be a distant cousin only." (source: Letter from Arthur Thomas to J. A. Baird).165 Stuart had opened studios in many west coast cities; close to Mount Shasta, in the 1880s, he opened a studio in Ashland, Oregon (source: Washington State Historical Society. Northwest History in Art, 1778-1963). One of his most famous paintings, reproduced many times in literary biographies, is a portrait of the poet, playwright, and novelist Joaquin Miller. (That portrait, which now hangs in the California State library in Sacramento, is a fine rendition of the author. Miller, incidentally, who lived as a miner at the base of mount Shasta for four year as a teenager, was more closely aligned with Mount Shasta than any other writer in history.)

Painting of Mount Shasta by J.E. Stuart courtesy of the Montagne Collection - evening painting of snwo covered two peaked mountain with river flowing through valley floor
Painting of Mount Shasta by J.E. Stuart
Source Unknown

Manual W. Valencia

"Mt. Shasta" oil c. 1890, 20 by 30 inches.

Alphonso Herman Broad (1851-1930)

Alphonso Herman Broad did not arrive in California until 1887, after the art boom had passed. He is included in this section because he was a close friend of many of the 1870s artists, and because his paintings are typical of the Barbizon influenced paintings of the post boom period.

Broad was a self-taught artist who often painted with a characteristic 'apple'-green color. As mentioned, his paintings are reminiscent of the Barbizon school, though they are never as dark and moody as those of the later style of William Keith, with whom Broad was a close friend and sketching partner. The two made many sketching trips together to the Sierras.166

Broad was a successful building contractor, designer, and businessman who had served on the board of trustees in Berkeley, and had been that city's town marshall. He began painting later in life, and it is said that he placed his paintings in the buildings he created. His Eastlake style buildings, especially the cottages he designed, were well-known in the Bay Area. Among the major Berkeley buildings he built are the Whittier, LeConte, and Columbus Schools.167

There are four known Mount Shasta paintings by Broad. Each is interesting because of his manner of showing a quiet scene in the mountains. There is no attempt to make the mountain spectacular; instead he chose to portray in both paintings a small pond in a high meadow, with great ponderosa or sugar pine trees closely framing the whole somewhat pastoral scene. The mountain looms large in the background, but the feeling of the painting is more of a painter who enjoyed being at that spot. It was the ability of conveying the intimate emotion of a place that was the objective of the Barbizon influenced painters.

Painting of Mount Shasta by Alphonso Broad. Courtesy Turtle Bay Exploration Park, Redding, California
Mount Shasta by Alphonso Broad.
Courtesy Turtle Bay Exploration Park, Redding, California.

Joseph John Englehart (1867-1915)

Joseph John Englehart was a Oregon and California artist in the late 19th Century. It is known that he had a studio in San Francisco in the 1880s and 1890s, and that later he had a studio in Portland. He was a prolific painter and his paintings were at times quite good, on the finer side of being 'tourist paintings,' but he never achieved the critical acclaim of his contemporaries. Today he is considered to be on the second tier of early west coast artists, on par with artists like James Everett Stuart. Englehart painted Mount Shasta often, these paintings range from small to large (5 foot wide) in size. According to art historian Edan Hughes, Englehart signed his oils “J. Englehart" or "J. J. Englehart" and occasionally "J. Englehardt." A large collection of Englehart paintings can be seen at the Baldwin Hotel at the Dalles, Oregon.

An Encampment Along a River Near Mount Shasta by J.J. Englehart courtesy of Butterfields - snow covered two peaked mountian in the distance with river flowing through valley of mountianous peaks on left and pine trees on right
An Encampment Along a River Near Mount Shasta by J.J. Englehart
Oil on canvas. 30" x 49 1/4".
American and California Paintings and Sculpture, December 13, 2000, Sale 7209 D, Lot 3170.
Courtesy of Butterfields.

Charles Dormon Robinson (1847-1933)

For many decades San Francisco art Charles Dormon Robinson created seascapes and landscapes of northern California. He was an exhibitor at the San Francisco Academy of Art beginning in 1876 and continued painting well into the 1920s. His one known Mount Shasta painting, painted perhaps consciously in the atmospheric and tonalist Barbizon style, is an especially effective art work that shows Black Butte and Mount Shasta in their frequent foggy aspect. Robinson, judging by the increasing numbers of his work at auction, was a prolific artist.

Information from: Chelette, Iona M. California Grandeur and Genre. Palm Springs: Palm Spring Desert Museum, 1991.

Mount Shasta by Charles D. Robinson from Butterfield and Butterfield - snow covered two peaked mountain glowing behind a tall black cone shaped mountain behind adark valley in the foreground
Mt. Shasta
Courtesy: Butterfields.

Julian Rix (1850-1903)

Julian Walbridge Rix was a major San Francisco artist of the 1870s and 1880s. His paintings of the Sacramento River, the Trinity Alps, Clear Lake, Mount Shasta, etc., though not many in number, are nonetheless some of the finest works from that time period. He was a member of the San Francisco Art Association and the Bohemian Club. He painted and sketched a number of northern California pictures for John Muir's monumental book 'Picturesque California."

Mt. Shasta by Julian Rix from Butterfield and Butterfield - a river with trees on the left and hill side on the right reflecting the golden setting sun
Mt. Shasta.
From: Butterfield and Butterfield. American and California Paintings and Sculpture. December 9, 1999. Sale 7076-D, Lot 5338.
Courtesy: Butterfields.

[133] Wilson.First Art School in the West. pp.44-46.

[134] Wilson. p. 48.

[135] The Call, Vol. 79, No. 25. San Francisco, Dec. 25, 1895.

[136] Stebbins. p. 148.

[137] Wilson. Artists Around Keith and Hill. p. 28.

[138] Ibid. p.28.

[139] Ibid p. 29-30.

[140] Ibid p. 26.

[141] Hamilton, Sinclair. Early American Book Illustrators and Wood Engravers, 1670-1870. Princeton, N.J. Princeton University Library, 1958.

[142] Miller. Artists Around Keith and Hill. p. 18.

[143] Ibid. p. 16.

[144] The date 1870 is given due to the mention of Clarence King and Carlton Watkins at Mount Shasta. Whether Welch wrote his journal at the same time or years later is not known. It was in 1870 that King and Watkins were together at Mount Shasta. King was at the time conducting the Shasta stage of his 40th parallel survey, and Watkins made a complete photo series of the mountain, those negatives still in posession by the U.S.G.S. in Denver.

[145] Broekhoff p. 12. This Oakland Museum reprint was first published in the Overland Monthly and Out West Magazine in 1924.

[146] Wilson. Artists Around Keith and Hill. p.33.

[147] Rough draft notes of Belle Sisson McQuire, daughter of J.H. Sisson. She says about the red shirt that Sisson wore "He also wore a red shirt as he said the deer or other animals seeing this moving red object would pause to look at it and so give him time for a better aim."

[148] Broekoff. p.26.

[149] Brother Cornelius. Volume 1. p. 237.

[150] Most of the information presented here about Hittell was gleaned from notes in the Baird Archives at U.C. Davis.

[151] Obituary, april 15, 1899. newspaper clipping found in the Baird Archives at U.C. Davis. Name of paper unknown, possibly the San Francisco Chronicle.

[152] Trenton & Hassrick. p.153.

[153] Stenzel, Dr. and Mrs Franz. p. 17.

[154] William Dick. In a letter written in 1970. Found in the Baird Archives at U.C. Davis.

[155] Unsigned letter in the Baird Archives at U.C. Davis.

[156] Seavey. p.2.

[157] Seavey. p.2.

[158] This observation is based on a comparison of a limited number of the works of each artist. But the arrangement of hills, buildings, and roads, usually seen from similar heights, and a similarity in the colors used, indicates if nothing else a common sensibility. In addition to being exposed to the paintings of Pissarro in France, there was one or more of the Pissarro paintings shown in San Francisco in 1894 at the Mid-Winter Exhibition, which Yelland may well have attended.

[159] Greene. p.13.

[160] Letter dated 1964, written by Zella Vivian Yelland, niece of R.D. Yelland. Letter found in the Baird Archives at U.C. Davis.

[161] Personal conversation with Al Becker, director of Abbey House Galleries.

[162] James. p. 2-3.

[163] Easton, Eldridge & Co. 1896 auction Catalogue of Strauss paintings; and Kerwin Galleries.

[164] Hughes. p. 446-447.

[165] Arthur Thomas, close friend of J.E.Stuart, written in a letter to J.A.Baird. Baird Archives at U.C. Davis.

[166] Hughes. p. 64.

[167] Ibid. p. 64.

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