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 Robert William (G Day/Trebor) Wood  (1889 - 1979)

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Lived/Active: California/Texas/Maryland / England      Known for: landscape, coastal view and still life painting

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Robert William Wood
from Auction House Records.
Floral Spectrum
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A painter of realistic landscapes reflecting a vanishing wilderness in America, Robert Wood (not to be confused with Robert E. Wood) is reportedly one of the most mass-produced artists in the United States.  His painting became so popular he was unable to meet all of the demands, and many of his works were reproduced in lithographs and mass distributed as prints, place mats, and wall murals by companies including Sears, Roebuck.

He was born in Sandgate, Kent on the south coast of England near Dover, the son of W.L. Wood, a famous home and church painter who recognized and supported his son's talent.  In fact, he forced his son to paint by keeping him inside to paint rather than playing with his friends.  At age 12, Wood entered the South Kensington School of Art.

As a youth, he came to the United States in 1910, having served in the Royal Army, and he never returned to England.  He traveled extensively all over the United States, especially in the West, often in freight cars, and also painted in Mexico and Canada.  His itinerant existence took him to Illinois where he worked as a farmhand, to Pensacola, Florida where he married, briefly in Ohio, Seattle, Washington, and Portland, Oregon.  In 1912, he was in Los Angeles, and In the late 1920s and early 1930s, in San Antonio, Texas, where he lived and in 1928 exhibited in the "Texas Wildflower Competition." From San Antonio, he gained a national reputation for his strong colored, dramatic paintings.  Some of that prestige has been credited to his asssociation with Jose Arpa, prominent Texas artist.  Wood also gave art lessons, and one of his students was Porfirio Salinas.  During this period, Wood sometimes signed his paintings G. Day or Trebor, which is Robert spelled backwards.

In 1941 he went to California and painted numerous desert and mountain landscapes and coastal scenes.  He lived in Carmel for seven years, and then moved to Woodstock, New York, but he soon returned to California, settling first in Laguna Beach, then San Diego, and finally in the High Sierras, where he and his wife built a home and studio near Bishop and lived until his death in 1979.

Sources:
Edan Hughes, Artists in California, 1786-1940
John and Deborah Powers, Texas Painters, Sculptors & Graphic Artists
David Zellman, 300 Years of American Art

Biography from Roughton Galleries,Inc:
Robert Wood was born March 4, 1889 in Sandgate, England, a small town on the Kentish coast not far from the white cliffs of Dover. His father, W. J. Wood, was a successful painter who recognized Robert's unusual talent. At the age of twelve, his father enrolled Wood in art school in the small town of Folkstone. He then attended the South Kensington School of Art. While attending art school, Wood won four first awards and three second awards, one each year, a record.

In 1910 after service in the Royal Army, nineteen-year-old Wood and his friend, Claude Waters, immigrated to America. Initially, he settled in Illinois and worked as a hired hand on a farm belonging to Water's uncle. He would then strike out on his own, living the life of an itinerant painter. Wood traveled as a hobo, hopping freight trains and selling or bartering small paintings to support him along the way. When times were hard, he worked at whatever job was available. In this manner, he saw most of the United States and fell in love with rural America.

By 1912, Wood visited Los Angeles for the first time, arriving on the day of the Titanic tragedy. Later that year, he had met, courted and married young Eyssel Del Wagoner in Florida. The couple moved to Ohio where a daughter, Florence, was born. During World War I, the family moved to Seattle where a son, John Robert Wood, was born in 1919.

In the early 1920's, the young Wood family was almost constantly on the move. They stayed for short periods in Kansas, Missouri, California and for a longer time in Portland, Oregon, where Wood's friend Claude Waters had settled. Wood's seemingly endless wanderings disrupted his family life and delayed his development as a painter. However, through his travels he developed an appreciation for the American landscape that would inspire him for the rest of his career. Although aware of the current movement away from traditional realism in American art, he elected to travel that solitary path and remain true to his own vision of American’s grandeur and beauty poetically translated through his landscape and seascape paintings.

In 1923, the Wood family discovered the beautiful city of San Antonio, Texas and it was there that he and his family would finally settle. He studied briefly at the San Antonio Art School with Spanish colorist Jose Arpa y Perea (1860-1952), who had arrived in San Antonio that same year. In the latter part of the 1920’s, Jose Arpa’s influence quickly became evident. Wood after several years of experimentation was becoming fine easel painter, capable of great subtlety with a new mature original style.

Like Texas painters Robert Onderdonk (1853-1917) and his son Julian Onderdonk (1882-1922), Robert Wood concentrated on the distinctive Texas landscape with its Red Oak trees and wildflowers that covered the hill country landscape. He developed a reputation for his scenes of Blue Bluebonnets, the state flower. In the spring, the Texas prairie is covered with wildflowers, especially in the hill country surrounding San Antonio and Austin. Wood incorporated native stone barns and rough wood farmhouses that added authenticity and romance to his compositions.

In 1925, Wood was divorced from his wife. In 1932, he moved to the famous scenic loop on San Antonio's outskirts. While still living in Texas, he took extensive western sketching trips that brought him to California. It is evident that his 1930’s California and Texas works started to show his an awareness of the then popular California Plein-Air movement. These more mature works are distinguished by a fine sense of detail reminiscent of late-19th-century American landscape painters laced with the colorful influence of American and French impressionism. With paintings being shipped to dealers across the continent, Wood’s reputation with collectors was growing nationally.

It should be noted that from 1924 and 1940 Robert Wood also signed his paintings G. Day (Good Day) and Trebor (Robert backwards). He only used these signatures during these years (1924-1940) and there is conflicting information as to why.

In 1941 after seventeen years in Texas, Robert Wood and his second wife Tula, who he had met in San Antonio, moved to coastal town of Laguna Beach, California. Laguna had been an artist colony since early in the century and it was the birthplace for California Plein-Air School, which was still active. While in Laguna, he developed a following for both his landscapes and marine paintings. Wood's paintings of the California coast remained a significant part of his oeuvre. Living in Laguna for seven years, Robert Wood became an active member of the Laguna Art Association and an exhibitor at the annual Laguna Festival of the Arts.

After the War in 1948, the Woods moved east and bought a home Woodstock, New York, which he had visited in the 1930’s. It was a popular artist colony located in the Catskills Mountains. He purchased a studio hidden deep in the Wood Stock forest where Maples and Elms, as well as a quiet brook surrounded his small rustic studio. He found inspiration from the bold autumn colors of the forest, the Catskill Mountains covered in pillows of snow and the blossoming fruit trees of spring. During this period, he made sketching trips to New Hampshire, Vermont and along the Maine coast. Although included in his eastern subjects, these Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine subjects are rare when compared to the hundreds of paintings done while in Woodstock.

The public was captivated with Roberts Wood’s seasonal Woodstock paintings. He began working with an inexpensive print publishing house (possibly Donald Art Publishing Co.) to reproduce several of his paintings. The reproductions were an immediate success. October Morn, which was his most successful prints, sold more than one million copies in less than two years. These inexpensive paper reproductions made Robert Wood one of American’s most famous landscape painters.

After a few years in New York, Robert and Tula moved back to Laguna Beach. 1952 and 1953 were tumultuous years for Robert Wood. He and Tula became increasingly estranged and they were divorced in 1952. The following year, Wood was hit by a car on Pacific Coast Highway and nearly died. His friend and amateur artist Caryl Price helped him around the house during his recovery and the two were soon married. He had instructed Caryl in painting and he would take her on sketching trips all throughout the west.

During the 1950's, a combination of the popularity of Robert Wood's paintings and his print royalties eventually made him a comfortable living. It was during this period that Grand Tetons became a favorite subject. Although Robert Wood painted extensively in the Colorado Rockies in the 1930s and 1940s, he did not paint the Tetons until the late 1950s. By the early 1960s, the Tetons and the California coast made up a significant percentage of his artistic production. Wood would continue to paint his popular Texas landscapes but his style had changed. Works from this period are more broadly painted with a more chromatic palette, which was considerably different than those from the 1930s and 1940s.

In the 1960's, Robert Wood's found great success and his paintings brought higher prices, some selling in excess of five thousand dollars. At the age of eighty, the American Express Company commissioned him to paint a series of six works to be reproduced as limited edition serigraphs for their Cardholders. Each print depicted one of the National Parks, subjects that were well known to Wood.

Around 1964, Robert and Caryl Wood moved San Diego. They had purchased a wonderful Victorian house that Caryl wanted to restore. After several years in San Diego, they finally moved back to Bishop and the Sierras. Wood remained active and he continued to paint until just prior to his death in the spring of 1979, just weeks before his 90th birthday.

Although Robert Wood shunned publicity and was modest about his accomplishments, he had millions of admirers who mourned his passing. There are thousands of artists in this country who learned a great deal by studying his work, his reproductions and through the art instruction books he authored for Walter Foster publishing.


Biography from Altermann Galleries and Auctioneers, VII:
Robert William Wood (March 4, 1889 – March 14, 1979) was an American landscape painter.[1] He was born in England, emigrated to the United States and rose to prominence in the 1950s with the sales of millions of his color reproductions.[2] He was active in the art colonies of San Antonio Texas in the 1930s,[3] Monterey, California in the 1940s and Laguna Beach, California in the 1950s.[4]
Robert William Wood was born in Sandgate, Kent, England, near the White Cliffs of Dover. After emigrating from England in 1910, he began his American career and for more than sixty years he criss-crossed the American Continent, from Maine to California in search of landscape subjects.

He lived in rural Ohio, Seattle, Washington, Portland, Oregon, San Antonio, Texas, Monterey, California, Laguna Beach, California, San Diego, California and Bishop, California. He was a popular exhibitor at the Laguna Art Festival and a Life Member of the Laguna Art Association.[6] Wood was represented by galleries in Laguna Beach, Los Angeles, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Cleveland.[7]

Wood moved to Bishop, California in the early 1960s with his wife, the artist Caryl Wood. On a large parcel of land with its own trout pond, they built studios for each of them. The Woods sold the property to move to San Diego, California where they restored a Victorian home.[8] After a few years in San Diego, they returned to Bishop where they purchased a smaller property. Wood died in Bishop at the age of eighty-nine, just a month before a large retrospective exhibition was mounted at the Morseburg Galleries in Los Angeles, by Howard Morseburg and the Newport Beach gallery owner Raymond Hagen.[9]

Wood was an extremely facile painter and his artistic production was substantial, certainly in excess of 5,000 completed works. Wood's work is sold at galleries specializing in historic American Art and is sold frequently at auction, with his auction record in excess of $40,000.[10]


Notes
1. ^ Although he was never naturalized as a citizen, his entire career was in the United States, hence his designation as an "American" artist.
2. ^ These figures came from the Donald Art Company and are referenced by Jeffrey Morseburg in his essays on Robert Wood.net and other web sites.
3. ^ He was represented in a number of the early San Antonio Plein-Air exhibitions in the late 1920s.
4. ^ Records of Laguna Art Festival. See also articles in archival section of Robert Wood web site referenced below.
5. ^ Donald Art Company was a leading American art publisher from the 1950s through the 1980s. Its D.A.C.N.Y. legend is found on millions of Wood reproductions.
6. ^ Wood exhibited his work at most Laguna Art Festivals from the late 1940s through the early 1960s.
7. ^ Richard Challis and Larry Kronquist in Laguna Beach, Newman Galleries in Philadelphia, Palmer Galleries in Atlanta, Morseburg Galleries in Los Angeles are several of the galleries.
8. ^ Images of both these homes are reproduced on the official Robert Wood.Net web site.
9. ^ Gaston, Godfrey, Robert Wood Retrospective, Exhibition Catalog, Morseburg Galleries, Los Angeles, California, 1979
10. ^ Ask Art reference site lists hundreds of sales with a high value of more than $40,000.
Sources
• Kronquist, Lawrence, Robert Wood, Gallery Brochure, Laguna Beach, California, 1973
• Gaston, Godfrey, Robert Wood Retrospective, Exhibiton Catalog, Morseburg Galleries, Los Angeles, California, 1979
• Morseburg, Jeffrey, Robert Wood Centennial Exhibtion, Catalog, Morseburg Galleries, Los Angeles, California, 1989
• Morseburg, Jeffrey, Robert W. Wood (1889–1979) Unpublished Essay, West Hollywood, California, 2007
• Interview with Howard E. Morseburg (b. 1924), Wood's Los Angeles Dealer, Santa Ynez, California, 2010
Source: wikipedia

Biography from Blue Coyote Gallery:
Perhaps the most prolific landscape painter in American history, Robert W. Wood had a career that spanned over seven decades.  His work is associated with numerous regions throughout the United States including the Texas hill country, the California coast, the Rocky Mountains, upstate New York and the Sierra Nevada.  According to some accounts, he is “the most reproduced Master in the world”.  Millions of reproductions have been made of his paintings.  In fact one piece, October Morn, sold over 1.25 million copies in two years alone.
 
Wood’s commercial success is made all the more amazing when one considers he devoted little to no effort to promoting his work or gaining acclaim among the art community.  Instead he held a strong faith in the natural appeal and time enduring quality which inevitably results from serious dedication to one’s craft.

Wood first came to America from his native England in 1910.  For several years he lived an itinerant lifestyle, working odd jobs just long enough to get by, bartering and selling his paintings, and hopping freight trains to travel from town to town.  During this period, which Wood later recalled as one of the best of his life, he developed a strong affection for the American landscape that provided the basis for his artistic voice.

Marriage and children did little to cure Wood’s wanderlust.  Often the constant movement was a detriment to both his family and artistic life.  Realizing the need for stability, he settled in San Antonio, Texas in the early 1920’s where he came under the tutelage of Seville Academy trained Spanish artist Jose Arpa.  It was in the Texas hill country that Wood’s work blossomed and matured, but San Antonio was only one of many stops on the journey.  He left Texas for California in the 1940’s, then moved to upstate New York briefly before returning to southern California permanently in the early 1950’s. During his career he built an oeuvre that includes work of all fifty states and many foreign countries.

Although his subject matter was almost exclusively rural or uninhabited landscapes, Wood’s style changed over the decades.  His early work is more reminiscent of the 19th century English landscape painters, while his latter works became more impressionistic with broader strokes and more vivid colors.

Eighty-nine year old Robert Wood was still actively painting at the time of his death in Bishop, California in 1979.





Biography from DeRu's Fine Arts:
Robert Wood was born in Sandgate, England on March 24, 1889. Robert first studied painting with his father, W.J. Wood, and at age 12 entered the South Kensington School of Art. He immigrated to Los Angeles in 1912 but led an itinerant existence painting and living all over the United States. Working from coast to coast, he painted California landscapes, Southwestern desert scenes, the High Sierras, the Grand Tetons, Texas bluebonnets, in Florida and the Woodstock area of New York.

From 1924 he was based in San Antonio, Texas where he gained a national reputation. In 1941 Wood settled in Laguna Beach and executed many paintings of Southern California landscapes. In the 1960's he moved to Bishop, California where he remained until his death. During the 1960's his works were reproduced into prints and were sold by the millions across the country bringing him great fame. Robert Wood died on March 14, 1979.

Biography from a third party submitted on 01/22/2009:
Robert Wood was a landscape painter whose work is a document of America’s fast-vanishing wilderness and seashores.

He was aware of the new cross-currents in American art, and had daily contact with these ideas, but elected to travel a solitary path that was true to his own poetic vision of what constituted the American landscape.  Resulting were many paintings as well as reproductions, and he caught the attention of the American public.  One print, October Morn, sold 1.25 million copies in less that 2.5 years! 

Born in England, he came to the United States shortly after finishing his art training. He traveled, and earned his living by either hard work or by painting, and there were periods when he painted in storefronts and on street corners.

Robert Wood died in March 1979, just short of his 90th birthday.

Biography from Artistic Gallery:
Robert William Wood was a prolific American landscape artist born in Sandgate, England.  He immigrated to the U.S following service in the British Royal Army.  He fell in love with the rural American landscape and was to become one of its most prolific painters.

Robert Wood’s paintings have been widely reproduced in the form of lithographs and other print media.  His most reproduced painting October Morn, 1956, sold over 1 million copies in 2 years.

He spent many years in Texas, was part of the Laguna, California art scene, and also spent time in Woodstock, New York painting American outdoors scenes.  He was a household name in the 1950's and 1960's due to the many reproductions of his art. He was also a life member of the Laguna Beach Art Association.

He lived the last portion of his life in Bishop, CA

Biography from The John Stewart Gallery:
Robert W. Wood (1889-1979) was a well-known American landscape painter for several decades, and his work has been widely reproduced.

Wood was born in 1889 in Sandgate, England.  His father, W.L. Wood was a Victorian painter, and young Robert displayed an early ability for painting.  He studied painting in the traditional manner of the late-Victorian period in nearby Folkstone.  After service in the Royal Army, he emigrated to America in 1910.

Eventually residing in Texas, Wood established a reputation for beautifully painted landscapes of familiar Texas scenes.  He studied with one of the area's best known artists, Jose Arpa (b.1868), and there is little doubt that Wood was also influenced by the painters Robert and Julian Onderdonk (1853-1917 and 1882-1922 respectively).

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