The Pool, Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco (Court of the Four Seasons), circa 1915 signed 'E. Charlton Fortune' (lower left) oil on canvas 16 1/4 x 20in overall: 24 1/4 x 28 1/4in
PROVENANCE: Private collection, Northern California
EXHIBITED: Monterey, Monterey Peninsula Museum of Art, Colors and Impressions: The Early Work of E. Charlton Fortune, September 23, 1989 - October 15, 1990. Oakland, The Oakland Museum, The Early Work of E. Charlton Fortune, August 18 - October 14, 1990.
E. Charlton Fortune, one of California's leading impressionistic painters, was born in Sausalito, California to an American mother and Scottish father. Fortune lived and worked in Europe intermittently from 1897 to 1927. In 1898, she attended St. Margaret's Convent, a Roman Catholic girl's school in Scotland. It was during this period that Fortune traveled to France, where she encountered the works of the European masters. The work of the Impressionists would become particularly influential on Fortune's painting style.
Prior to the 1906 earthquake, Fortune studied with Arthur Mathews in San Francisco, from whom she learned that line, color, form and composition were the basic components of painting. She later studied at the Art Student's League in New York, where she worked with Frank Vincent Dumond, Francis Luis Mora and William Merritt Chase.
By 1913, Fortune began spending her summers on the Monterey Peninsula, at which point her paintings were distinctly impressionist with a high key palette and a striking plein air feeling. During the summer of 1914 in Monterey, William Merritt Chase made a seminal visit to the local arts community, possibly influenced by Fortune.
In 1915 San Francisco celebrated its rebirth following the 1906 earthquake and the completion of the Panama Canal by hosting the Panama Pacific Exhibition. Designed by Architect Bernard Maybeck, the Palace of Fine Arts was conceived as an overgrown Roman ruin inspired by Piranesi's famous etchings. The Palace of Fine Arts was an instant success and featured prominently on the San Francisco Day ticket to the exhibition. The exhibition hall housed the works of living artists, and Fortune was handsomely represented by seven of her paintings. As evidenced by the number of depictions of the Palace of Fine Arts in all media, the building was an inspiring subject in and of itself.
The Pool reveals Fortune at her most impressionistic with her use of bold colors and broad brush strokes. A multitude of contrasting colors define the surfaces. The stark teal blue reflections in the pool bring into focus the small bits of sky piercing through the columns. The green-garbed woman on the right with the matching parasol creates a bright green reflection in the pool contrasting with the blues. The palace itself is composed of tan colors highlighted with vibrant pink tones. The Pool is a significant picture in Fortune's early work in quality of execution and resonates today due to its beautiful subject.