Art of the Gold Rush

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9780520214316: Art of the Gold Rush
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The California Gold Rush captured the get-rich dreams of people around the world more completely than almost any event in American history. This catalog, published in celebration of the sesquicentennial of the 1848 discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill, shows the vitality of the arts in the Golden State during the latter nineteenth century and documents the dramatic impact of the Gold Rush on the American imagination.

Among the throngs of gold-seekers in California were artists, many self-taught, others formally trained, and their arrival produced an outpouring of artistic works that provide insights into Gold Rush events, personages, and attitudes. The best-known painting of the Gold Rush era, C.C. Nahl's Sunday Morning in the Mines (1872), was created nearly two decades after gold fever had subsided. By then the Gold Rush's mythic qualities were well established, and new allegories—particularly the American belief in the rewards of hard work and enterprise—can be seen on Nahl's canvas. Other works added to the image of California as a destination for ambitious dreamers, an image that prevails to this day. In bringing together a range of art and archival material such as artists' diaries and contemporary newspaper articles, The Art of the Gold Rush broadens our understanding of American culture during a memorable period in the nation's history.

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About the Author:

Janice T. Driesbach is Curator of Art at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento. Her most recent book is Direct from Nature: The Oil Sketches of Thomas Hill (1997). Harvey L. Jones is Senior Curator of Art at the Oakland Museum of California. His most recent book is Twilight in Reverie: California Tonalist Paintings, 1890-1930 (1995). Katherine Church Holland, formerly Fine Arts Curator at the California Historical Society, is currently an independent curatorial consultant.

From Kirkus Reviews:

paper 0-520-21432-3 A tad predictably, this survey of works on paper that emerged from California at around the time of the gold rush (1848) abounds in picturesque views of duly mountainous landscapes. There are also plenty of harborside San Francisco scenes to surprise the eye with the proximity of a very few sailing vesselsand even fewer skippers. Likewise, William Birch McMurtrie's vision of Telegraph Hill, circa 1849: The modesty of his sparse, low-lying dwellings is outdone only by the unbuilt bare vista extending alongside them. As with many 19th-century California scenes, his seems steeped in a pale golden aura, perhaps the greedy projection of a visiting artist who was hoping to mine a certain vein. Driesbach (curator at the Crocker Art Museum), Jones (curator at the Oakland Museum), and Holland (a former curator at the California Historical Society) give historical and biographical information, and observe some of the European influences that generally guided the painters; other influences can be inferred without them. For instance, A.D.O. Browere's Miners of Placerville owes something to Breughel in the scale, hue, and figurative compression of these he-men dwarfed by trees and hefting ropes and axes. But the impact of the book as a whole is held back by the small size of its color reproductions, which assigns to the hugeness of California a mincing, unconvincing Victorianism. -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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9780520214323: Art of the Gold Rush

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ISBN 10:  0520214323 ISBN 13:  9780520214323
Publisher: University of California Press, 1998
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