William Keith (1838-1911) Mount Hood from Sandy River 24 x 36in framed 31 x 43in (Painted in 1869.)

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Lot 22
William Keith
(1838-1911)
Mount Hood from Sandy River 24 x 36in framed 31 x 43in

Sold for US$ 10,200 inc. premium

California and Western Art Online

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2 Dec 2020 ended at 12:00 PST

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William Keith (1838-1911)
Mount Hood from Sandy River
signed, titled and dated 'WKeith 69' (on the reverse prior to lining)
oil on canvas
24 x 36in
framed 31 x 43in
Painted in 1869.

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    Private collection, South Carolina.

    William Keith was trained as a wood engraver in New York City. He practiced that trade in San Francisco until 1866 when he launched into a career as a landscape painter. His early works won immediate praise from the local critics. In 1868, he was commissioned to paint scenery for the Oregon Central Railroad Company, and in July of that year, the San Francisco Evening Bulletin reported that he had just finished a view of Mount Hood from the Sandy River 'from a new and favorable point.' (July 20, 1868).

    Upon his return to San Francisco, Keith worked on creating large exhibition paintings based on his Oregon sketches. On May 12, 1869, Benjamin Avery, the Bulletin's art critic, took note of 'A large view of Mount Hood... from an excellent point of view on Snake River [sic].' It is likely that Avery misheard or misremembered the name of the river. In any case, he went on to remark that the peak of Mount Hood 'rises with impressive majesty...the minor points of the scenery are thoroughly faithful and characteristic, and the management of light bold and effective. It is the most satisfactory picture we have seen yet of this fine mountain.' Keith would have been thrilled with this assessment, as more established artists like Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Hill had executed major paintings of Mount Hood by 1869. This painting is the most important example of a Keith landscape in his early style to have come to light. Although an ill-advised conservator obliterated the original signature, inscription, date and canvas stencil, a photo was taken of the original canvas which shows Keith's early practice of signing major works on the reverse, and using Jones & Wooll canvases. Jones & Wooll went out of business in 1870. Only a handful of Keith paintings have survived from this era, showing bristling detailed foregrounds in his early style, and soft, ethereal snow peaks set against powder blue skies.

    We are grateful to Alfred C. Harrison, Jr. for this note.
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