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Indepth Arts News:

"A Legacy of Early California Paintings: The Shumate Collection"
2001-05-26 until 2001-08-05
Oakland Museum of California
Oakland, CA, USA

Paintings from the 19th century art collection of Dr. C. Albert Shumate are featured in the exhibition A Legacy of Early California Paintings: The Shumate Collection, on view at the Oakland Museum of California from May 26 to Aug. 5, 2001. Shumate, a medical doctor by profession whose passion was history, was one of the earliest collectors of California art. The 51 paintings in the exhibition, by more than 40 prominent artists, provide a pictorial record of much of California's history and artistic life in the years between 1816 and 1916.

The Shumate Collection represents a veritable Who‚s Who of 19th and early 20th century California painters. Few of these paintings have been seen in other exhibitions or publications. The paintings, primarily oils but also watercolor and gouache, are on long-term loan to the museum from the heirs of the Shumate collection, Drs. Thomas and Jane McLaughlin.

Harvey Jones, senior curator of art at the Oakland Museum of California and curator of the exhibition, said, We are very fortunate to have the use of this important private collection, which has been seen by very few people. It will augment and complement our own historical survey in the Gallery of California Art.

The earliest paintings in the collection were produced by artists who accompanied the exploratory expeditions that visited the Pacific Coast during the early 19th century. The earliest work in the exhibition, Habitants de la Californie, 1816, is a watercolor depicting three native Californians as illustrated by Louis Choris for the Russian-sponsored Kotzebue expedition.

The establishment of the European tradition of easel painting in California began in the 1850s during the Gold Rush era, in San Francisco, Sacramento and around various mining sites in northern California. In addition to documenting the Gold Rush, artists painted the California wilderness and images of native Californians, early railroading, marine subjects and such popular San Francisco attractions as Fort Point, Cliff House and Chinatown. The exhibition includes Gold Rush paintings by Thomas Ayres, Frank Marryat, Henry Walton and Frederick Butman, among others. The most celebrated artist of the Gold Rush, Charles Nahl, is represented by William H. Walton‚s copy of his long-lost painting, A Miner Prospecting.

Romantic realism, the principal stylistic movement among California landscape painters of the second half of the 19th century, is represented by such artists as Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Hill, William Keith, Juan B. Wandesforde, Ransom Gillet Holdredge, William Marple, Carl von Perbandt and Virgil Williams. These California painters transformed the precisely detailed, idealized landscapes of the Hudson River school into a looser, more realistic style.

During the last decade of the 19th century, California landscape painting moved toward an evocation of mood or sentiment in the depiction of typical, yet often unidentified sites. Artists of this era represented in the exhibition include William Keith, Jules Tavernier, Edward Rufus Hill, Grace Carpenter Hudson, Charles Rollo Peters and Will Sparks.

Maynard Dixon,
The Man with the Hoe, 1916,
ink wash and gouache on paper

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