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Welcome to the William A. Karges Fine Art Blog, where you'll be able to find information about Early California Paintings, including Museum Exhibitions, Current News, Events, and our gallery's new acquisitions of original paintings created between 1870 and 1940 by a wide variety of Early California Artists. We'll feature biographies, photographs, links to websites of interest to collectors, video tours, and detailed histories of some of California's most influential and intriguing artists.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Nocturnes of Charles Rollo Peters

Early California artist Charles Rollo Peters, famous for his quiet, peaceful tonalist nocturnes, has often been called “The Poet of the Night”.  His paintings, often created using shades of deep blues and rich purples, evoke feelings of mystery and serenity.  In today’s high-tech, fast moving world, they bring a much needed sense of tranquility to this artist’s many admirers and collectors.  They encourage the viewer to imagine the slower paced life that existed long ago on the Monterey peninsula where the artist made his home during the early 20th century.

Charles Rollo Peters "Monterey Adobe at Night" 11 x 14 1/4 AVAILABLE NOW

Artists of the Northern California tonalist movement, including Gottardo PiazzoniXavier Martinez, and Will Sparks, rejected the Impressionistic plein-air style and brighter palette that was favored at the time by painters in Southern California.  Instead, they focused on creating an interpretation of nature using muted colors, soft outlines, and subtle nuances and gradations of single hues in a narrow range.  Their paintings convey feelings of calmness, peace, and timelessness, and often depict the uniquely hazy, foggy atmospheric effects commonly seen in the weather patterns of the Monterey area.  

Casa Sargenti

The darker hues Peters used in his night scenes, the nocturnes, create a vision where the forms are often indistinct and mysterious.  A viewer of one of his paintings once remarked that “It’s like a secret being revealed”.  As one’s eyes adjust to the light, the objects on the canvas, a crumbling Spanish Adobe, the branches of a Cypress tree, or the moon behind the clouds, slowly come to life and are quietly unveiled.

Charles Rollo Peters was born in San Francisco in 1862 to a wealthy family.  He clearly had a talent for painting, and in the 1880’s he studied with artists Jules Tavernier  and Chris Jorgensen at the California School of Design.  He traveled to Europe in 1886 for a period of four years, studying at the famed Ecole des Beaux-Arts and the Academie Julien.

Notre Dame, Paris

He returned to San Francisco in 1890, married his first wife Kathleen Mary Murphy, and traveled back to Europe for an extended trip.  His son, also an artist, Charles Rollo Peters III, was born in France on September 25th, 1892 during this period.  During his time in Europe, he was deeply influenced by the beautiful paintings of James McNeill Whistler, who was reported to have said that “Peters was the only artist other than himself who could paint nocturnes”. 

He returned to California about 1895 and soon after that, moved to Monterey, making his home there on thirty acres of land that he purchased, in an area known as “Peters Gate”.

Castro Adobe

During his time in Monterey, he painted numerous scenes of the local Spanish adobe houses, including the Castro Adobe, as well as the California Missions, during his time in Monterey.

Mission Buenaventura

The lobby of The Inn at Spanish Bay in Pebble Beach is currently the site of one of the artist’s most striking large nocturne scenes.  Visitors to the area often make a special trip to view it, and many feel that the night sky in this painting, with its wonderful array of stars, is one of the loveliest he created during his lifetime.

In 1907, along with William Keith, Karl Neuhaus and Will Sparks (another artist noted for his jewel-like nocturnes), Charles Rollo Peters established the Del Monte Art Gallery in Monterey, which was the first gallery to focus entirely on the local California artists of that time.

His first wife, sadly, died in 1902, and Peters was also deeply upset by the passing of his young daughter in 1904.  His excessive spending, often on lavish parties for his artist friends, eventually caught up with him.  Though he did remarry in 1909, later in life he began drinking on a regular basis, perhaps as a way to mute the pain of his tragic losses and his increasing depression.  Authorities foreclosed on his Monterey estate, and his health declined.  He died in San Francisco in 1928, and will always be remembered for his quiet, tranquil and mysteriously beautiful nocturnes.

For additional information about available original paintings by this artist, please contact Patrick Kraft, Director of William A. Karges Fine Art, Sixth and Dolores, Carmel, California www.kargesfineart.com (800) 833-9185 or (831) 625-4226.

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