James Everett Stuart

Near Morgan Hill, California, 1934
12 x 18 in

James Stuart's work is in the collection of the White House, the De Young Museum, the L.A. County Museum of Art and other notable collections and hundreds of prominent private ones, and his talent is manifest in this landscape (though he was also known as a fine portraitist). What I like best about this painting is the suggestions of Modernism that inform it despite its ostensibly traditional setting. First, the unusual dominance of the dense tree line on the left, almost a solid block that intrudes upon the canvas in the foreground, with its ragged edges of young trees and vines. Then you have the serene and (am I wrong?) gently Surrealist nature of the cluster of buildings and the smooth, green block of the field before them. Compare this landscape to, say, the traditional landscapes still being painted at the end of the 19th century; or those being done by the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. Stuart had seen all of this, and here was what resulted, his own style that combined Modernism with an unfragmented and traditional perspective. I keep going back to this strange and beautiful block of dense foliage on the left and how it couldn't have happened before certain movements in art history had occurred. As the bio information below mentions, Stuart would write detailed information about each of his paintings on the back (see photo); this one he priced at $700 -- I can't fathom how much money that would be in today's dollars. Framed and ready to hang. 

Biographical information:

Born near Bangor, Maine on March 24, 1852. He came to California with his parents in 1860 via the Isthmus of Panama. The family settled on a 200-acre ranch up the Sacramento River near Rio Vista where he attended public school.

He began to paint in 1860 and had a few lessons in Sacramento from local artist David H. Woods. In the 1870s he began a five-year study course at the San Francisco School of Design under Virgil Williams and Raymond Yelland while studying privately with portrait painter Benoni Irwin. He then had studios in Portland, Oregon (1881), New York City (1886), Tacoma, Washington (1890) and in 1891 established a studio in Chicago where he was based for twenty years. A lifelong bachelor, he traveled throughout the Northwest, Mexico, and made three trips to Alaska. By the turn of the century, he was a nationally famous painter and was highly successful in merchandising his own work.

He had the unique habit of listing on the back of his canvases the price, number, date, and geographical location of the scenes depicted. He painted over 5,000 paintings, mostly landscapes; however, he was an excellent portraitist and also did a series of mission paintings. He also invented a process for painting on aluminum which he considered indestructible. Upon returning to San Francisco in 1912, Stuart established a studio on Union Square and remained in San Francisco until his death on January 2, 1941.

Member: San Francisco Art Association; National Arts Club; Society of Independent Artists; Bohemian Club; American Artists Professional League; Portland Art Club.

Exhibited: American Art Society, Philadelphia, 1902 (bronze medal); San Francisco Art Association, 1916-18. Works held: Oakland Museum; White House (Washington, DC); De Young Museum; Bancroft Library (University of California at Berkeley); Southwest Museum (Los Angeles); California Historical Society; Crocker Museum (Sacramento); California State Library; Montana Historical Society; Washington State Historical Society; Witt Art Library (London); Kalamazoo (MI) Art Assn.; Michigan State Library; Oregon Historical Society; Omaha Public Library; Los Angeles County Museum of Art In addition, his works are held in other important museums and private collections of California art and are sold at major auctions and galleries.

Morgan Hill California is a short distance south of San Jose.

Painting: 12” high by 18” wide

Frame: 16-1/4” high by 22-1/4” wide