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.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Percy Gray's Early California Tonalist Watercolors

Percy Gray is considered one of California's most important historical artists, and more specifically, one of the state's premier watercolorists.  He was influential as a leader of the American art movement known as “Tonalism” that began in the 1880's and lasted well into the 1920's.  Tonalism focused on creating an interpretation of nature using muted colors, soft outlines, and subtle nuances and gradations of single hues in a narrow range. 

Born in San Francisco in 1869 to a family with an artistic heritage, Gray inherited a passion for art, and enrolled at the California School of Design at the age of sixteen. After working as a newspaper illustrator, he began his full-time career as a landscape painter in the Bay Area.  He originally started working with oils. However, he became allergic to these materials, prompting his switch to watercolor.

Percy Gray "Eucalyptus Trees and Wildflowers"
16 x 20 inches

The inclusion of wildflowers in his paintings contributed to the romantic, poetic mood often seen in the artist's tonalist works.  The colored flowers provide a perfect contrast to the softer subtler colors seen in the sky and hills in the background.

Percy Gray
"Hillside Oaks"
9 3/8 x 13 1/2 inches

Throughout his career his style was reminiscent of the Barbizon School artists and grays, browns, and greens were usually his palette of choice.  His paintings that feature clouds and moody skies above the trees have a quiet, pastoral tone and convey calmness, peace, and timelessness.  He often focused on the uniquely hazy atmospheric effects and softly blurred outlines commonly found in Northern California, and frequently included his signature towering, majestic oak trees.

Creating visual poetry, large elegant trees are often abundant in his paintings.  Works showcasing the gently sweeping branches of the Eucalypti are particularly sought-after by collectors.

Today, Percy Gray is unquestionably considered one of the most successful and well-known landscape painters to have worked in California during the early 20th Century.  Gray spent his last years in Marin County continuing to paint until his death in 1952.  His work has been exhibited at many public institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Crocker Art Museum, Oakland Museum, Santa Barbara Museum, Brooklyn Museum, and the Monterey Museum of Art.

For additional information about the artist and currently available paintings by Percy Gray, please  visit our website at www.kargesfineart.com, contact Karges Fine Art in Carmel, California by email to gallery@kargesfineart.com or by telephone at (831) 625-4266.

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