Joseph Greenbaum

Joseph Greenbaum started his career as an artist at the California School of Design, becoming a favored pupil of Amédée Joullin during the early 1890s. He then spent several years in Europe, studying portrait painting in Paris, while also traveling to picturesque French locations like Brittany. Back in San Francisco in the early twentieth century, he became a highly respected member of the local art scene. In 1905 he sent a painting titled “Chinatown Monterey” to the Starr King Exhibition in Oakland, perhaps a larger version of our painting. In the same show Greenbaum exhibited paintings of Breton fisherfolk, suggesting that Greenbaum was looking for a California equivalent to the colorful ethnic culture in Brittany. Chinese immigrants in Monterey were the first major participants in the fishing industry there, eventually founding a settlement near Pacific Grove. Greenbaum has couched his depiction of boats and huts in the then-fashionable “tonalist” aesthetic, exploring the harmonies available within a limited palette.