John Marshall Gamble and his paintings are primarily associated with the town of Santa Barbara, but his route to Southern California was circuitous, starting with his birth in Morristown, New Jersey. His father worked for the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, and his family moved to Auckland, New Zealand for a handful of years. As a young man in 1883, Gamble moved to San Francisco where he trained at the San Francisco School of Design under Virgil Williams and Emil Carlsen. Like many aspiring artists from America, Gamble sought to finish his artistic training in Paris, and traveled to study at the Académie Julian which was particularly popular at the time. There, Gamble studied there under Jean-Paul Laurens and Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant. After his training, he returned to San Francisco and perhaps would have stayed there if not for the calamitous earthquake and fire of 1906 which consumed his studio. In the wake of his loss, Gamble moved to Santa Barbara for a visit and remained there for the rest of his life.
Gamble is best-known as a painter of wildflowers, although he once commented, "I never painted them as flowers at all. I didn't even think of them as flowers while I was painting. They were just color patches to me. I simply liked the way they designed themselves across the field." (Santa Barbara News Press, 3 April 1956). In Poppies and Lupine, Santa Barbara, Gamble depicts a hillside blanketed in masses of vivid orange and blues. The "color patches", as he calls them, are deeply saturated in contrast with the mountains and few scattered clouds in the far distance.
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