Welcome to the William A. Karges Fine Art Blog

Welcome to the William A. Karges Fine Art Blog, where you'll be able to learn about Early California and Southwest Paintings and discover information about Museum Exhibitions, Current News, Events, and our gallery's new acquisitions of original paintings created between 1870 and 1940 by a wide variety of 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. Visit our Gallery at Dolores & Sixth Ave in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California to view our collection of fine paintings in person.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

The Unique Style and Bold Color Combinations of Birger Sandzen

Birger Sandzen was born in Blidsberg, Sweden in 1871 and spent the majority of his successful career in Lindsborg, Kansas, where he also worked as an art professor at Bethany College. He is best known for his colorful, dynamic landscapes featuring mountain lakes and rivers, boulders, aspen trees and rustic buildings. The style and spirit of his works, though uniquely individual, varied throughout his career from Pointillist and Fauvist, to Expressionist and Post-Impressionist. His artworks are dramatic, exciting and vibrant.

Our first work, “Iceberg Peak, Colorado State Park”  features rich vivid colors with brilliant brushwork. A truly outstanding example of his distinctive style, the surface emphasizes a thick application of paint in a manner reminiscent of Van Gogh or Cezanne. The work showcases his fascination with rich, wonderfully bold color combinations.

Birger Sandzen (1871 - 1954)
"Iceberg Peak, Colorado State Park"

Our second work, “Early Fall”, was painted later in Sandzen's career in 1951. The location is one of the artist's most popular settings, the Smoky Hill River in central Kansas. This is a classic example of his mature work, using a slightly softer and more subdued color palette. The application of paint on the surface, while still energetic and vigorous, is somewhat more restrained.

Birger Sandzen (1871 - 1954)
"Early Fall, Smoky Hill River, Kansas, 1951"
Oil on board, 20 x 24 inches

Birger Sandzen's work is internationally known and has been exhibited and held in the collections of numerous museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Uffizi in Florence, the British Museum, the Denver Art Museum, and the Library of Congress.

For additional information about these or other available paintings by early American and California artists, contact Karges Fine Art at (800) 833-9185 or visit www.kargesfineart.com.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The Romance of Early California Landscapes

What is it that has always attracted people to Early California painting? Works created during the period between 1870 and 1940, plein air works in particular, call attention to the exceptional and unparalleled beauty of the hills, mountains, deserts, and farmlands of the Golden State. These cherished historic works remind us of a romantic era and a quieter time in the history of the “Land of Sunshine and Opportunity”.

Joan Irvine Smith, founder of the Irvine Museum, noted that “Over a hundred years ago, the splendor of nature fascinated artists and compelled them to paint beautiful paintings. As we view these rare and remarkable paintings, we are returned, all too briefly, to a time long ago when the land and its bounty were open and almost limitless.”

Even before the land around Yosemite Valley became part of Yosemite National Park in 1890, the breathtaking views of this area captivated countless notable artists and writers. The stunning waterfalls, majestic granite cliffs and scenic vistas were favorite subjects of famous 19th century landscape artist Thomas Hill. One of the most acclaimed painters in the history of American art, Thomas Hill is especially well known for his western landscapes and panoramic views of our National Parks. We are pleased to present this magnificent scene of Bridalveil Fall, Yosemite, below, which showcases the natural beauty of the area.

Thomas Hill (1829 - 1908)
"Bridalveil Fall, Yosemite"

Millard Sheets was one of the seminal artists working in California from the late 1920's until his death in the late 1980's. Often identified as the most influential of the "California Scene Painters" during the 1930's and 40's, Sheets was a master watercolorist and oil painter. He also designed and oversaw the implementation of over 100 public murals, and as one of the directors of the WPA Art Program for Southern California, his leadership and impact on the local art world cannot be overstated.

Millard Sheets was born in 1907 in Pomona, California and grew up on a ranch, where he developed a love of the land and horses. "Oro Grande, 1937", below, is a fine example of his unique style that also reveals his enduring attraction to simple, rustic, rural scenes. His paintings can be found the collections of numerous important museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum, the Chicago Art Institute, and the National Gallery in Washington D.C.

Millard Sheets (1907 - 1989)
"Oro Grande, 1937"
Watercolor, 13 x 30 inches

American Impressionist Orrin White is best known for his decorative Southern California landscape paintings. He was born in Illinois in 1883 and moved to Los Angeles in 1912, where he worked for an interior design firm and painted in his spare time. In 1915 his works were accepted to both the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, and the 1915-1916 Panama-California International Exposition in San Diego, and he was inspired to begin painting full-time.

“Sycamores and Coast”, below, is painted in a classic impressionist style, with rich, bold colors, close attention to light and atmospheric effects, and loose brushstrokes. The strong composition features the towering, majestic trees that are often found in his finest plein-air works.

Orrin White (1883 - 1969)
"Sycamores and Coast"
Oil on canvas, 24 x 32 inches

The appeal of historical California art is multi-faceted and often rooted in deeply-felt emotions and fundamental human nature. This bucolic scene from the remarkable plein-air watercolorist Marion Wachtel, “Santa Paula”, below, evokes a peaceful, quiet mood, and serves as a wonderful counterpoint to the fast pace of today's world.

Born in Milwaukee in1870 into an artistic family, Marion Wachtel studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, in New York City with William Merritt Chase, and in Northern California with William Keith. She and her husband, notable early Southern California landscape artist Elmer Wachtel, eventually moved to an art community near the Arroyo in Pasadena, a favorite location for landscape painters of that era.

Marion Wachtel (1870 - 1954)
"Santa Paula"
Oil on canvas, 20 x 30 inches

Early California landscapes can bring us joy, pleasure, and memories of happy times spent with people we've loved. And, most importantly, the paintings from this special era in history make us feel connected to the past, connected to the land and the environment around us, connected to the artists through time, and to each other.

For additional information about these paintings or other currently available artworks, please visit www.kargesfineart.com, call (800) 833-9185, or email the Director of our Carmel Gallery, Patrick Kraft, at gallery@kargesfineart.com.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

The Exotic World of Jessie Arms Botke

During the height of her career, Jessie Arms Botke was proclaimed by critics as the greatest decorative painter of the West. The art world consisted primarily of male artists in the early twentieth century, yet Botke quickly earned a name for herself through a strong work ethic and an undeniable talent. She is primarily remembered for her ornate depictions of exotic birds, especially pelicans, geese, ducks, cockatoos, and peacocks, as well as her elegant paintings of tropical flowers, which inspired her to a high level of artistry.
No matter the medium, Botke’s paintings are unique and filled with both wonder and fantasy. From her early plein air landscapes and her decorative friezes to her more mature gold-leaf oil compositions, Botke’s work remained relevant, even in the ‘60s, as a testament to her longevity as an artist and the sheer beauty of her creations.

Jessie Arms Botke
"Ducks and Magnolia"
Oil and gold leaf on board
9 3/4 x 7 3/4 inches

Born in Chicago in 1883, Jessie Arms began painting and sketching at a young age. By 1902, she had enrolled in the Art Institute of Chicago, where she trained under the tutelage of renowned artists and teachers John C. Johansen and Charles Woodbury. Upon graduation, she moved to New York City to work for Albert Herter of Herter Looms, famed textile and tapestry design firm. She later contributed to a series of wall murals done by Herter for San Francisco’s St. Francis Hotel.

"Peacocks and Poppies"
Oil and gold leaf on board
32 x 28 inches

After moving back home to Chicago, Jessie Arms met artist Cornelis Botke, who soon became her husband and lifelong partner. In 1929, the happy couple settled in Santa Paula, California’s Wheeler Canyon on a peaceful ranch consisting of ten acres. From her home and studio, Botke became the most exceptional decorative painter of the twentieth century with her bold portrayals of birds and flora, which were heavily inspired by Japanese screens. Later in life, she also proved herself to be a master watercolorist and printmaker.

Click here to view additional examples of Botke's paintings.
Click here for additional in-depth information about the artist and her life.

Call William A. Karges Fine Art at (800) 833-9185 for additional information about available paintings by Jessie Arms Botke and other early California artists, or email gallery@kargesfineart.com.