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 Joseph Lee  (1827 - 1880)

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Lived/Active: California / France/England      Known for: seascape-ship portrait, landscape painting

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BIOGRAPHY for Joseph Lee
1827 (England)
1880 (San Francisco, California)

California / France/England

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seascape-ship portrait, landscape painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Joseph Lee (1827-1880)

He was born in England in 1827, came to San Francisco in 1858 and was listed in the city directory as a sign painter.  Little is known of his art training; he may have been been self-taught.  He first gained public notice in 1858 at the second Mechanics' Institute Fair where he won a bronze medal for tin signs.  From the painting of signs, he developed into an easel painter of scenes that were rendered in minute detail.  Captains often hired Lee to do portraits of their ships and it is said that you could rig a ship with one of his paintings.  His works are seldom without water and often contain repetitious patterns such as railroad tracks, white picket fences, etc.  He often signed his paintings on the bows of the ships.  His rare works number fewer than 100.  Lee died in San Francisco of a lung disease on January 13, 1880.

Exhibited: Mechanics' Institute (San Francisco), 1858, 1875-79; San Francisco Art Ass'n, 1870s; California Historical Society, 1968 (solo).

Works held: St Francis Yacht Club (San Francisco); Oakland Museum; Maritime Museum (San Francisco); Bancroft Library (University of California, Berkeley); Society of California Pioneers; De Young Museum; California Historical Society; Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Known for meticulous attention to detail, especially in his marine paintings, Joseph Lee painted in the Bay Area of California in the late 19th century. Ship captains often commissioned him to do ship portraits, and it was laughingly said that you could rig a ship with one of his paintings.

Lee was born in England and arrived in San Francisco in 1858, listed as a sign painter. Little is known of his art training, but he came to public attention when he won a bronze metal for tin design in 1858 at the second Mechanic's Fair.

Very few of his works survive.

Source: Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"

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