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Charles J. Dickman
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Charles J. Dickman studied art in Paris during the 1890s, returning to California in 1900 as a fully trained painter working in the tonalist tradition of J.A.M. Whistler. While in France, he took extended sketching tours to Normandy and Brittany, recording the primitive customs of the fisherfolk that were threatened by the march of progress. In 1902, Dickman built a lavish studio in Monterey, which he occupied for several years. His close friend and fellow Bohemian Club member, Charles Rollo Peters, lived nearby and reinforced Dickman’s predilection for moody, dark paintings charged with poetic spirituality. Dickman’s favorite time of day was “that mystic time twixt sundown and moonrise,” as art critic Laura Bride Powers noted in reviewing a Dickman painting. (S.F. Call, April 8, 1906.) All through his California career, Dickman painted romantic French subjects inspired by his years abroad. He sent one of his earliest exhibition paintings, Brittany Homes, to the San Francisco Art Association in November 1900. He continued to paint that popular subject—a subject that appealed to San Francisco city dwellers who “step from the rattling noises of the [San Francisco] street into the midst of the fresh life of these sea villages,” in the words of art critic Lucy Jerome. (San Francisco Call, June 20, 1909). Though forgotten today, Dickman was a leading artist in the early twentieth century, mentioned along with Peters and William Keith as one of the “big men of the West.” (Call, Jan. 28, 1906.)