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Francis John McComas

 (1875 - 1938)
Francis John McComas was active/lived in California.  Francis McComas is known for tree landscape, Indian scene, marine paintings.

Francis John McComas

Biography from the Archives of askART

Francis John McComas was born in Fingal, Tasmania on Oct. 1, 1875.  At age 15 McComas enrolled at the Sydney Technical Institute.  Leaving Australia in 1898 with artist Myer Blashki, he worked his way to San Francisco as a merchant seaman.  Upon arrival, he studied with Arthur Mathews at the Mark Hopkins Institute and continued in Paris at Académie Julian. 

Returning to San Francisco in 1902, he had his first solo show at Vickery's, and in 1904 toured Europe with photographer Arnold Genthe.  Architect Willis Polk and artist Charles Rollo Peters were attendants at his marriage to Marie Louise Parrott in San Francisco in 1905.  In 1907, while traveling through Greece, the McComases were presented to the royal family. 

In 1909 and 1910 he spent time sketching in New Mexico and Arizona before settling into his new home in Carmel, CA in 1912.  With Arthur Putnam and Mary H. Foote, he was one of three California artists invited to exhibit in the Armory Show of 1913 in NYC. 

At the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915, he served on the Int'l Jury of Awards and was awarded a bronze medal for one of ten entries.  In 1917 he divorced his wife and married artist Gene Frances Baker of Oakland.  McComas died on Dec. 27, 1938 in Pebble Beach, CA. 

He is nationally known for his landscapes of California oaks and cypresses as well as southwestern Indian subjects.  Eugen Neuhaus summed up his style thus: "The decorative tonalism of his teacher, Arthur Mathews, is evident in his work.  The color range of his watercolors is limited to the warm monochrome which is well suited for painting California's warm summer hills." 

Member: San Francisco Art Association; Salmagundi Club; American WC Society; Philadelphia WC Society; Society of American Artists. 

Exh:  Vickery, Atkins, & Torrey Gallery (SF), 1899-1914; Lewis & Clark Expo (Portland), 1905; Alaska-Yukon Expo (Seattle), 1909; Armory Show (NYC), 1913; Panama-Pacific International Exposition, 1915; Philadelphia WC Club, 1918 (gold medal); American WC Society, 1921; Bohemian Club, 1922; Painters of West (LA), 1924; Courvoisier Gallery (SF), 1935 (solo); California Palace of the Legion of Honor, 1935; Golden Gate International Expostion, 1939; California Historical Society, 1965 (solo). 

Works held in Public Places:  California Palace of the Legion of Honor; Oakland Museum; De Young Museum; Portland Museum; California Historical Society; Mills College (Oakland); Bohemian Club; Monterey Public Library; Metropolitan Museum. 

Edan Hughes, author of the book "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
Arts in California (R. L. Bernier, 1916); California Art Research, 20 Volumes; Francis McComas  by Kent Seavey; American Art Annual 1927-33; Who's Who in American Art 1936-40; History & Ideas of the American Art (Harmsen); West As Art; SF Chronicle & NY Times, 12-29-1938 (obits).

Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

Biography from the Archives of askART
Born in Fingal, Tasmania, Francis McComas became noted for his paintings, many in Tonalist style, of California oaks, cypress trees, desert landscape and Indian subjects.  His specialty was watercolor.  For twenty-six years he "was a key figure in the development of California watercolor painting and was an inspiration to younger artists who were considering pursuing watercolors as their primary painting medium". (McClelland 159) However, he also did many oil paintings and murals.  He first received art education from Sydney Technical College in Australia and then worked his way via Hawaii and Samoa to California as a merchant seaman.

McComas moved to San Francisco in 1898, studied with Arthur Mathews at the California School of Design, and then went to the Academie Julian in Paris.  Eventually he settled in Monterey, California but traveled with a group of painters regularly to the Southwest where he painted pueblo country landscapes, many of them with looming rock formations.  During 1909-1910, he explored Hopi villages, Canyon de Chelly, and New Mexico pueblos.

Along with Arthur Putnam and Mary Foote, he represented California at the 1913 Armory Show in New York City, and in 1915, he won a bronze medal for one of his ten entries at the Panama Pacific Exhibition.  There he was honored with a two-person show with his teacher Arthur Mathews.  It was said that he had social connections on the East Coast and Europe, and these contacts were helpful in furthering his career, especially in the 1920s when he was getting established.

His watercolor Cliff Dweller series with warm monochromatic tones became a trademark and was a departure towards modernism from the tonalist style he learned from Mathews.

Edan Hughes, Artists in California, 1786-1940
Gordon McClelland and Jay Last, California Watercolors 1850-1970

Biography from
Biography provided courtesy of "California Watercolors 1850-1970" By Gordon T. McClelland and Jay T. Last.

Francis McComas...(1875-1938)

Born: Fingal, Tasmania

Studied: Sydney Technical College (Australia)

Member: American Watercolor Society, Philadelphia Water Color Club.

Francis McComas studied art in Australia before sailing to San Francisco, via Samoa and Hawaii. In 1898, he spent a brief period in Monterey, studied art with Arthur Mathews in San Francisco, and then went to Paris where he continued his art education at the Academie Julian.

Upon his return to the West Coast in 1901, he began traveling throughout the Southwest painting depictions of desert landscapes which often included monumental rock formations and Indian dwelling places.

In 1912, he returned to California, got married and settled in Monterey. McComas was a well traveled man, having visited many parts of the world including Greece, Mexico, Tahiti, Alaska and greater North America.

He was socially connected and early in his career, established art connections on the East Coast and in Europe. When he began seriously exhibiting his works in the early 1920s, these connections proved valuable. Although he produced many oil paintings and murals, McComas received most of his national acclaim for his bold and directly painted watercolors.

On the East Coast, he received awards and notoriety from his many watercolors exhibited in annual shows of the Philadelphia Water Color Club and American Watercolor Society. On the West Coast, he was a prominent exhibitor at the Del Monte Gallery and was honored with a special two-man show with his former art instructor Arthur Mathews at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. Most importantly, his works were included in the Armory show, the exhibition that is credited with changing the course of American art.

For twenty-six years, McComas was a key figure in the development of California watercolor painting and was an inspiration to younger artists who were considering pursuing watercolors as their primary painting medium. He was a popular, well-liked person and a respected artist in the Monterey community where he spent much of his life.

Biographical information: Interview with Margaret Bruton, 1980, Yesterday~ Artists on the Monterey Peninsula (Catalog).

Biography from William A. Karges Fine Art - Carmel
Francis McComas was born in Australia in 1875, and studied there at the Sydney Technical College. In 1898 McComas left Australia, working his way to San Francisco, where he studied at the Mark Hopkins Institute.

Following further study in Paris, McComas returned to San Francisco to begin exhibiting his works. In 1912 he moved to Carmel, and a year later was one of only 3 California artists invited to exhibit at the pivotal New York Armory Show. McComas was a master watercolorist, whose works reflected to soft Tonal palette of the early northern California painters.

McComas died at his home in Pebble Beach in 1938.

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About  Francis John McComas

Born:  1875 - Fingal, Tasmania
Died:   1938 - Pebble Beach, California
Known for:  tree landscape, Indian scene, marine paintings