Purissima Falls, 1876 signed and dated 'T. Hill 1876' (lower right) oil on canvas 36 x 70in
Provenance: Property from the Los Angeles Athletic Club Collection
Literature: San Francisco Bulletin, December 29, 1876 San Francisco Chronicle, January 14, 1877 San Francisco Call, January 21, 1877 San Francisco Newsletter & Advertiser, January 27, 1877 San Francisco Chronicle, January 28, 1877 San Francisco Chronicle February 11, 1877 San Francisco Bulletin, April 19, 1877
Exhibition: San Francisco Call February 9, 1877: San Francisco Art Association Artists' Winter Exhibition Marjorie Dakin Arkelian's Thomas Hill: The Grand View, The Oakland Museum Art Department, Oakland, Ca, 1980, 26. A Selection of Works from the Los Angeles Athletic Club, San Diego Museum of Art, April-October, 1986
Note: Purissima Falls gives us a rare view of the northern California coast, while magnificently representing the fine painterly qualities of Thomas Hill, the artist. Typically celebrated for his dramatic Yosemite scenes--the ability to capture on canvas nature in the raw as seen in massive rock, unscalable cliffs, immense mountains, and spectacular waterfalls--Thomas Hill was also a remarkable painter of still lifes, genre, and marinescapes. Like Albert Bierstadt, he had the sensibility of a late-nineteenth century romantic-realist, who sought the sublime and grandiose aspects of nature for his paint brush.
Purissima Falls was a popular scenic attraction for San Franciscans who traveled by train to enjoy the scenery and the waters. When finished, the composition and the Turneresque palette represented in Purissima Falls immediately attracted the attention of a local critic who described it as a view of Purissima Falls, a romantic cataract on the coast of [Half Moon Bay], a short distance north of Santa Cruz, in San Mateo county. The Purissima Creek, having followed its course for a distance of ten miles down the mountains, takes a sudden leap over a precipice one-hundred feet high, into the sea. The surroundings are romantic, and have been accurately reproduced in the picture. The beach which fills the middle foreground is covered with pelicans and other aquatic fowl.
During his lifetime, Hills salon-size paintings graced the mansion walls of such affluent men as railroad-magnates, Charles Crocker and Leland Stanford, and Judge E.B. Crocker of Sacramento. With its elaborately carved gilt-frame and monumental size, Purissima Falls was undoubtedly displayed in the grandest style of nineteenth century San Francisco.
We are grateful to Dr. Patricia Trenton for her assistance with this catalogue entry.