Autumn sycamores estate-stamped 'William Wendt' (lower right) and stamped on the stretcher bar oil on canvas 40 x 50in overall: 51 x 61in
PROVENANCE: Collection of Anna Wendt, the artist's sister, Chicago, Illinois Private collection, Chicago, Illinois, circa 1953 With Robert Henry Adams Fine Art, Chicago, Illinois, 1991 With The Redfern Gallery, Laguna Beach, California Thence to the present owner
LITERATURE: Jean Stern, In Nature's Temple, The Life and Art of William Wendt, The Irvine Museum, 2008, p. 50, illustrated.
William Wendt commonly left his paintings unsigned until they were either sent to exhibitions or sold. His sister Anna Wendt acquired a great deal of her brother's paintings during her years living in Chicago. Many of these works, although fully finished canvases, were given to her unsigned.
William Wendt's adoption of an impressionistic style can be dated to 1896-97 when he and his close friend George Garnder Symons were painting together on the Malibu Rancho near Los Angeles. Both men were in the avant-garde of American painters at the time in that they were open to the Impressionist style that had begun in France in the mid 19th century. As it turns out, Southern California was to be a perfect location for translating the bright colors, atmospheric conditions, and shimmering light that were characteristic of the Impressionist style.
Before 1915, Wendt worked with rather tentative, feathery brushstrokes, but therafter he developed a bold, self-confident style which one critic termed masculine impressionism. It melded impressionism with a distinctly modernist flair. He produced landscapes with a distinct broader, bold brush. Eugen Neuhaus wrote of Wendt: He sings of spring in its rich greens and more often of the joyful quality of summer in typical tawny browns, in decorative broad terms.
Wendt painted exactly what he saw in nature with warm colors and outstanding effects of light and shadow. The tranquility, strength and sense of well-being of his work appealed to a wide audience. It had a sober sort of poetry about it, one critic wrote, like a fine, familiar hymn. In 1912, Wendt built a studio in Laguna Beach, California, where he worked steadily until his death in 1946. He and his wife shared their knowledge with aspiring artists and had much to do with the growth of Laguna Beach as a center of the arts.
Wendt, now considered a giant among American Artists, is often referred to as The Dean of Southern California.