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 Lorenzo Palmer Latimer  (1857 - 1941)

About: Lorenzo Palmer Latimer
 

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Lived/Active: California      Known for: tree and mountain landscape painting

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BIOGRAPHY for Lorenzo Latimer
Facts/Data
Birth
1857 (Gold Hill, California)
 
Death
1941 (Berkeley, California)

Lived/Active
California

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tree and mountain landscape painting

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San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition 1915
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Gold Hill of Placer County, California, Lorenzo Latimer became a prolific California landscape painter and highly respected teacher. He is best known for his watercolor paintings of picturesque views of northern California including giant redwoods, Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

He was the son of California pioneers, and his father, Lorenzo Dow Latimer, was a lawyer in Chicago and then moved his family to California where he tried gold mining. Failing to have success, he practiced law in that state, first in Gold Hill in Placer County and then in Santa Rosa of Sonoma County. Lorenzo Latimer's mother died when he was six years old, and the father married Sarah Rich from a local ranching family. The Latimers moved to a ranch near Windsor, California and the young Latimer grew up among rolling hills that later became prosperous vineyards. In 1869, when Lorenzo Latimer was age twelve, he moved to San Francisco where his father became a Superior Court Judge.

He was educated at McClure's Military Academy in Oakland. He first settled in San Francisco and studied at the School of Design with Virgil Williams, graduating in 1882. He then opened a studio at 611 Clay Street in San Francisco and formed a partnership with John A. Stanton (1857-1929) to exhibit paintings and do decorative commissions. He also became a part of the raucous, partying circle of Jules Tavernier (1844-1889) "who believed that an artist did not have to pay his bills or erecise moderation when it came to alcohal". (Harrison 108). Under this influence, Latimer's career appears to have suffered for a few years as the 1880s was not, according to critics, a productive time for him.

However, by 1883, he had begun the routine that would sustain him for a long career, about fifty years, of teaching and painting. He taught outdoor painting classes, mostly of women, and they took many excursions to picturesque areas of California, especially Sonoma family where his family retained property. Painting alongside his students, Latimer did watercolor sketches that he later converted to oil paintings in his studio.

From 1888 to 1891, Latimer retreated from San Francisco to his family home in Sonoma because of ill health and doctor's orders that he not paint for three years. The cause of these problems is unknown "but perhaps his bohemian way of life in San Francisco had caught up with him." (Harrison 109).

But returning to San Franciso, he became a prominent artist, known especially for his scenes of California redwood forest interiors. He referred to these scenes as "cathedrals of nature" (Harrison 111) and credited Jules Tavernier for influencing his fascination with the subject.

He exhibited frequently with the San Francisco Art Association and also had a work included in the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Underscoring his growing reputation was his election to artist membership in the Bohemian Club and selection to the Guild of Arts and Crafts, a group of artists, writers and musicians that imposed cultural standards on local culture.

Latimer had a studio at 841 Market Street, and in 1893 married Jennie Phelps. They had a son, Lorenzo Phelps Latimer, who became an amateur painter and professor of agriculture at the University of New Hampshire in Durham.

From 1893 to 1894, he taught at the Mark Hopkins Insitute, whose name was later changed to the California School of Design. In 1898, he became second vice-prisidnet of the Hopkins Institute and was the senior artist on the board, serving for ten years as arbiter for the exhibitions. In 1894, he started teaching at the Mechanics Institute, a position he held until the earthquake of 1906. He lost much of his early work from the 1906 earthquake and fire in San Francisco and moved across the Bay where he set up a home and studio at 2514 Woolsey Street in Berkeley.

Following the earthquake, Latimer's reputation as one of San Francisco's leading painters began to diminish because he did not change his style to conform with modernist styles. He remained a highly influential teacher, especially of female students, and encouraged them to find their own unique styles. Beginning 1897, he exhibited many of their paintings with his own, and he led many painting trips, often to locations near Lake Tahoe and the Sierras including Yosemite. In 1914, he spent three summer months near Tahoe at Fallen Leaf and returned every summer for the remainder of his life. In 1916, he began autumn classes in Reno, Nevada, and in 1921, students there organized the Latimer Art Club. Known as the "Latimers", members became the founders of the Nevada Art Gallery, whose successor is the Nevada Museum of Art.

Lorenzo Latimer died on January 14, 1941 in Berkeley. His reputation remains for capturing in watercolor landscape scenes of the beauty of the West.

His work can be found in the collections of the Bohemian Club, the Sierra Nevada Museum in Reno where he was also active as a teacher in the 1920s and founded the Latimer Art Club, and the de Young Museum.


Sources:
Alfred Harrison, Jr. 'Lorenzo Palmer Latimer, California Watercolor Painter', "The Magazine Antiques", April 2005. (North Point Gallery)
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"

Biography from William A. Karges Fine Art - Beverly Hills:
Lorenzo Latimer was born in California’s gold country in 1857. Following art studies at the San Francisco School of Design with Virgil Williams, Latimer established a studio in San Francisco, and became a very popular Instructor.

When the 1906 earthquake and fire destroyed his studio and many of his early works, Latimer moved across the bay to Berkeley, where he taught at the University of California.

Best known for his watercolors of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Latimer also founded the Latimer Art Club in Reno, Nevada.

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

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