Item #351942 [Mountain Pass Looking Northeast]. William Keith.

[Mountain Pass Looking Northeast].

Np [but likely California]: [circa 1890?].

Price: $4,000.00


About the item

Watercolor on thin card, mounted to board at an early date. Signed recto lower left. Inscribed and signed by Keith on verso: "This a sketch of the pass looking northeast however this was in September, it may be of some [unclear word]". 9-7/8 x 7 inches. Minor chip to the mount at the lower left not affecting the image, minor toning. Harrison Jr., Alfred; et. al. The Comprehensive Keith (St. Mary's College of California: 2011).

Item #351942

Although not identified, the image is likely a view of Mount Shasta, and the brush strokes are suggestive of a period later in his career.

Keith (1838-1911) born in Scotland, arrived in San Francisco in 1859, working as a wood engraver. He studied painting with Samuel Marsden Brookes and first exhibited watercolors in 1866. Much of his early work comrpised landscape views in Yosemite and the High Sierra. He received a commission from the Oregon Navigation and Railroad Company to paint scenes in the Pacific Northwest. After some time studying in Germany, Keith returned to Calfiornia and befriended John Muir. In 1888 Keith and Muir visited Mount Shasta and Mount Rainier to create illustrations for Muir's Picturesque California. Many of Keith's works were destroyed by fire following the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

"Throughout his career, Keith was influenced by the strong art personalities of his environment—in the early days by San Francisco’s leading painters of the 1860s, Charles Nahl and Frederick Butman and paintings in the Hudson River School style by Albert Bierstadt. After his first trip to Europe, Keith injected elements of the Barbizon aesthetic into Hudson River School subjects, like sublime mountain scenes, creating an original and distinctive hybrid style ... In the 1880s and 1890s landscapes in the Barbizon style were at their peak of popularity in America. All through his career both in his mountain scenes and subjective paintings, Keith had a genius for evoking an emotional response from his audience through the manipulation of light. Nineteenth-century critics often praised his works for being 'poetic,' an adjective that meant 'emotionally appealing' when applied to paintings. Many of us today, in a vastly different and more secular cultural context, continue to be moved by his vision of nature. His paintings have passed the test of time" (Comprehensive Keith).