Edgar Payne

Paintings in Inventory (Click on an image for a larger view)

Edgar Payne (1882-1947) High Sierra

Edgar Payne was born in Missouri and developed the ambition to become an artist at an early age.  After a brief period of study at the Art Institute of Chicago, Payne travelled around the country winning commissions for mural paintings and commercial art projects.  In 1917 he moved to Southern California where he became founder of the Laguna Beach Art Association and its first president.  By then, he was an established easel painter and the recipient of many awards in juried exhibitions across the country.  Of all the California plein-air painters, Payne was the best at capturing the essence of the scene portrayed in broad impasto brushstrokes or swipes with the palette knife.  One of his favorite subjects was the high country of the Southern Sierra Nevada, which he started visiting in the 1920s.  By then he had painted in the Swiss Alps.  Payne loved the wild and trackless Sierra which unlike the Alps showed little evidence of human intrusion.  “There is more color in the High Sierras than the Alps,” he told an interviewer from the Los Angeles Times in 1927, “and more atmosphere…” (May 22, 1927). In our painting, Payne has created multiple harmonies out of the varied gray tones of the rocks, with white snow banks contributing to the bright impression. He has fashioned a beautiful work of art while conveying the essence of the Sierra experience.