January 10–March 8, 2015
Jules Tavernier: Artist & Adventurer–The Illustrations, featured selected work from a larger show organized by the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, California in 2014, and presented both there and at the Monterey Museum of Art. At the Grace Hudson Museum the show focused on the wood engravings that Tavernier created with artist Paul Frenzeny on a coast-to-coast sketching assignment for Harper’s Weekly in 1873-1874.
An illustrator, landscapist, genre painter, and visionary, nineteenth-century artist Jules Tavernier (1844–1889) was born in France but became one of the American West’s foremost talents. Though his career was brief, his intense creative energy spawned unique works in a variety of media, including engraving, oil, watercolor, and pastel. In painting, he employed techniques ranging from densely layered glazes built up in the manner of the old masters to the swift, fresh brushwork popularized by France’s Barbizon painters and, at times, the Impressionists.
In his own day, Tavernier’s works broadened perceptions about what was considered paintable. The transcontinental illustrations he made with Paul Frenzeny brought images and details of the West into American parlors everywhere and resulted in iconic paintings of American Indian life. In Monterey, California, he discovered and advanced new subject matter, leading followers away from grand, sweeping vistas toward the more intimate and emotional portrayal of nature that he had learned in France. In San Francisco, his studio became a bohemian artistic center, and he helped to found and lead the city’s arts organizations. Heading even farther to the west, in Hawaii he broke new ground by painting dramatic scenes of fiery volcanoes, before passing away in Honolulu at the age of 45.
Jules Tavernier: Artist & Adventurer–The Illustrations is accompanied by a full-color catalogue and features essays by Scott A. Shields, Ph.D., the Crocker’s chief curator and associate director, Claudine Chalmers, Ph.D., and Alfred Harrison, Jr. of the North Point Gallery in San Francisco.