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William Keith

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Mount Tamalpais

Artist's Biography

William Keith rivaled Thomas Hill as the most accomplished and successful landscape painter working in California during the nineteenth century. After two years spent studying art in Düsseldorf, Paris and Boston, Keith returned to California in 1872 as a sophisticated painter whose work drew on several prevailing styles popular in the cultural centers of the world. Many of his paintings reflect the influence of the "Hudson River School" and depict sublime mountain scenery à la Church or Bierstadt. But at the same time as he was painting alpine panoramas, Keith also focused on the more intimate landscapes of the French Barbizon movement that had come to the forefront of Parisian art appreciation during the 1860s. Barbizon painters adopted a more natural and impressionistic style than that of the academic painters; Barbizon artists painted real scenes outdoors but omitted much of the foreground detail required by the academy. The resulting works communicate a strength and unity of impression not possible in the rather sweet and artificial academic landscapes.

 


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