Friday, May 3, 2013

Keith, William

Spring Landscape (Spring in Marin County)
oil on Canvas
size unknown
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, CA, USA

"What I want to do is to study nature. The best way to do that is to be near her, and I have vague ideas about living in such close communion with her that she may adopt me and show me things hidden to every eye but that which loves her sincerely." (Keith)

William Keith (1838 - 1911) was a Scottish-American painter famous for his California landscapes. He is associated with Tonalism and the American Barbizon school. Keith was born in Scotland, and emigrated to the United States in 1850. He lived in New York City, and became an apprentice wood engraver in 1856. He first traveled to the American West in 1858, after being assigned to do illustrations for Harper's Magazine. He moved to England briefly, working for the London Daily News.

Most of his career was spent in California. In 1885 he bought a house in Berkeley and would commute to his studio in San Francisco each day. Keith enjoyed giving painting lessons on top of selling his own pieces because he liked to make sure he had a steady income. He mostly gave lessons to women, and rarely gave them to men however, because he enjoyed the company of women more.

"My subjective pictures are the ones that come from the inside. I feel some emotion and I immediately paint a picture that expresses it. The sentiment is the only thing of real value in my pictures, and only a few people understand that. Suppose I want to paint something recalling meditation or repose. If people do not feel that sensation when my work is completed, they do not appreciate nor realize the picture. The fact that they like it means nothing. Any one who can use paint and brushes can paint a true scene of nature - that is an objective picture. The artist must not depend on extraneous things. There is no reality in his art if he must depend on outside influences - it must come from within." (Keith)