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 Charles Partridge Adams  (1858 - 1942)

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Lived/Active: Colorado/California/Massachusetts      Known for: landscape, coastal view and marine painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Young Charles Adams moved from Massachusetts to Denver in 1876 at the age of 18.  A year later he began working at the Chain and Hardy bookstore, where he received encouragement for his artistic interests from Helen Henderson Chain, who had been a pupil of the noted artist, George Inness.

A three-month camping trip in the Rockies with another young artist in 1881 resulted in numerous sketches and paintings.  In 1885 he traveled to the East Coast, and visited the studios of George Inness and Worthington Whittredge, and the following year he visited the California studios of William Keith and Thomas Hill.

Though not isolated from other artists, Adams was largely self-taught, experimenting with different styles and techniques and continuing to use those that best served his vision and his subject matter.

His paintings were first exhibited publicly in Denver in 1886, and he exhibited work in both local and national shows through 1904.  In 1893 Adams established his first Denver studio, and began to paint watercolors in addition to oils. Since watercolors were less expensive, they sold readily, and from that time on Adams painted many watercolors.

In 1900, Charles Adams began renting a studio in Estes Park during the summer months, and in 1905 he built a studio there called "the Sketchbox" on Fish Creek Road, a building which still stands. Many paintings were purchased there by visitors to nearby Rocky Mountain National Park, and taken home to all parts of the country, and even abroad.  He was so successful that by the end of the summer he was able to pay off the cost of building "The Sketchbox" and the land upon which it stood.

Besides traveling extensively in the Colorado Rockies, he traveled to New Mexico, Arizona, Wyoming, painting the Tetons and Yellowstone, and Montana, where he painted Glacier National Park. An earlier trip to Louisiana in 1890 and a trip to Europe in 1914 resulted in a few paintings.

In 1917 Adams became quite ill and spent the winter in Los Angeles. He purchased a home there in 1920, and bought a second home in Laguna Beach in 1926. Since paintings of the Colorado mountains were not in demand in California, he primarily painted coastal scenes and a few of the California mountains, continuing to paint some Colorado scenes from memory for sale in Colorado.

In California Adams never achieved the success he had enjoyed in Colorado, though he continued to paint until his death in 1942.

Biography based on a BIOGRAPHICAL SUMMARY, adapted with permission from Dorothy Dines, the author of the book: The Art of Charles Partridge Adams, published in 1993. Dines gave permission to access the information from the web site,

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Franklin, Massachusetts, Charles Partridge Adams became one of the famous late 19th and early 20th-century painters of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. His signature mountain scenes had dramatic stormy skies of brilliant sunlight.

In 1876, he and his mother and sister moved to Denver because of his sister's tuberculosis, and he worked for an engraver and studied privately with Helen Chain. Extremely attracted to the scenery, he established a highly successful studio called "The Sketch Box," and advertised "Landscapes and Crayon Portraits." He became a charter member of the Denver Artist's Club. In 1882, when Chain and Adams submitted entries to the Denver Exposition, Adams won the gold medal, which was quite a distinction, not only for him, but for Helen Chain.

In the summers, he painted at Estes Park with a view of Long's Peak, a landmark he depicted many times. He also traveled south into New Mexico and north into the Tetons and Yellowstone Park and west to the mountains in California. In 1914, he made a tour of Europe.

In the early 1920s, he moved to Laguna Beach, California, where he remained until his death in 1942. In this period, he painted marine scenes and views of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

During his lifetime, he completed several thousand paintings, but he did not document his paintings so the actual number is unknown. Examples of his work can be found in Colorado at the University of Colorado at Boulder, the Denver Museum, and the Denver Art Association as well as among numerous private collectors. It is also at the San Diego Woman's Club.

Doris Dawdy, "Artists of the American West"
Peggy and Harold Samuels, "Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West"

Biography from David Cook Galleries:
Charles Partridge Adams
Born Massachusetts, 1858
Died California, 1942

Born in Franklin, Massachusetts, Charles Partridge Adams moved with his mother and two sisters to Denver, Colorado in 1876 in an effort to cure the two girls who suffered from tuberculosis. In Denver, Adams found work at the Chain and Hardy Bookstore. He received his first, and only art training from the owner’s wife, Helen Chain. Mrs. Chain, a former pupil of George Inness, provided instruction and encouragement to the young artist and introduced him to other artists in the area including Alexander Phimister Proctor.

Proctor and Adams developed a friendship, and the pair embarked on a three-month camping trip in Egeria Park, Colorado. In addition to exploring, both artists did quite a bit of sketching on the trip. After their return to Denver, Adams and Proctor shared a studio for a short period of time before Proctor moved to New York. Adams remained in Denver and after a short stint as an art teacher, he studied wood engraving with Major J.M. Bagley. He quickly abandoned the engraving for health reasons and began working in crayon.

His business card read “Landscapes and Crayon Portraits” though he much preferred landscapes. The artist soon made a name for himself in Denver. He established a wealthy clientele that purchased a number of his paintings to decorate their homes and to give as Christmas gifts.

In 1890, Adams married Alida Joslin Reynolds and the couple honeymooned in Estes Park, Colorado. That same year, he exhibited for the first time at the National Academy of Design. Three years later, the artist opened his first studio on Larimer Street in Denver. He began working in watercolor and had success in the new medium selling his paintings in stores in Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Kansas City, and Chicago. Also in 1893, Adams became a charter member of the Denver Artists Club.

In 1905, the couple's dream of living in Estes Park was realized when Adams completed construction on a home and studio there. Adams referred to the studio as “The Sketch Box” and the family summered there every year.

Though Adams is best known for his Colorado landscapes, he also painted in Yellowstone, the Tetons, the Canadian Rockies, the New Mexican Desert, and California. In 1914 the couple sailed to Europe where they spent five months touring. Three years later, Charles suffered from a near-fatal illness.

In 1920, Adams moved to California where he opened a studio first in Pasadena and later in Laguna Beach. He became a member of the Laguna Beach Artists Association and began painting marine subjects.

National Mining and Industrial Exhibition, 1884 Denver (gold)
Denver Chain and Hardy Bookstore, 1886 (solo)
National Academy of Design, 1890, 1896-1897
Chicago Art Institute, 1892, 1897, 1899, 1901
Artists’ Club, 1894
Trans-Mississippi Exposition, Omaha, Nebraska, 1898
Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo, 1901 (honorable mention)
Interstate and West Indian Fair, Charleston, South Carolina, 1901-1902 Louisiana Purchase Exposition, St. Louis, 1904.

Denver Art Museum
Kansas City Art Association, Missouri
San Diego Museum
University of Colorado, Boulder
University of Northern Colorado, Greeley
Women’s Club, Denver

Further Reading:

"The Art of Charles Partridge Adams", Dorothy Dines, Stephen J. Leonard, and Stanley L. Cuba, Fulcrum Publishing in cooperation with the Denver Public Library, Golden, Colorado, 1993.

"Artists in California, 1786-1940", Edan Milton Hughes, Hughes Publishing, San Francisco, 1986.

"Artists of the American West: A Biographical Dictionary", Vol. 1, Doris Ostrander Dawdy, Swallow Press, Chicago, 1980. 3 Vols.

"The Illustrated Biographical Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West", Peggy and Harold Samuels, Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City, New York, 1976.

"Who Was Who in American Art 1564-1975: 400 Years of Artists in America", Vol. 1. Peter Hastings Falk, Georgia Kuchen and Veronica Roessler, eds.,Sound View Press, Madison, Connecticut, 1999. 3 Vols.

Biography from Altermann Galleries and Auctioneers, I:
Born: Franklin, Massachusetts 1858
Died: Pasadena, California 1942

Colorado landscape painter, teacher

For reasons of health Adams moved to Denver in 1876, finding work as an engraver for a bookstore. He was briefly the pupil of Mrs. James Albert Chaim (of Chain), an Inness student who ran an art school in Denver. By the time he was 25, his landscapes were artistic and financial successes. His business card offered his services in “landscapes and crayon portraits.” Summers were spent at his studio “The Sketch Box” in Estes Park, Colorado. Subjects ranged from Long's Peak to Spanish Peaks, the Tetons, Yellowstone Park, and the New Mexico desert. He was a charter member of the Denver Artists Club in 1893.

Adams made his tour of the European galleries in 1914. When he retired to Laguna Beach, California in 1920, he specialized in marina subjects. At his death, Adams had completed 800 paintings plus a large number of sketches. One Denver collector alone had 200 of Adams’ works.

Resource:SAMUELS’ Encyclopedia of ARTISTS of THE AMERICAN WEST, Peggy and Harold Samuels, 1985, Castle Publishing

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