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 Albert Thomas De Rome  (1885 - 1959)

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Lived/Active: California      Known for: landscape, coastal, and seascape painting

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Ad Code: 3
Albert Thomas DeRome
from Auction House Records.
A Pinnacle by the Sea
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Cayucos, California, Albert De Rome became a California landscape painter, especially of natural landscapes formations, seascapes and marine scenes near Carmel and Monterey.  Usually his palette was bright in both oil and watercolor, but he did the occasional nocturne.  Scholars have compared his painting style and subjects to those of Thomas Hill and Albert Bierstadt.  However, Albert De Rome never affiliated with any formal group of painters, although he had many close friends including Percy Gray, Gunnar Widforss and Will Sparks.

As a young man, Thomas De Rome worked at the Congress Spring Hotel in Saratoga, and in San Francisco at the Globe Foundry, owned by an uncle.  He studied art under Arthur Mathews, John Stanton and Lorenzo Latimer at the Mark Hopkins Institute in San Francisco.  Early in his career, he became known for political cartoons for the San Jose Mercury News.  This job was followed by work in an advertising firm, J. Chas. Green Company, for whom he created billboards, signs and posters.  During this time he began painting small oil and watercolor landscapes at the Oakland Estuary.

He sketched landscapes with William Keith, Percy Gray, Frank Moore, and Gunnar Widforss, and from 1915 to 1931, made many painting expeditions to Nevada, Arizona and throughout California.  During that time he was also representing as a traveling sales manager George Haas and Sons, a candy company that had been one of his commercial art clients.

A serious head-on-collision in 1931 during one of those trips ended his professional career.  He was hospitalized for eight months, and it took years for him to fully recuperate.  Although he recovered his ability to paint, his agreement with his insurance company prevented him from selling his paintings.  So he gave away one painting a month for thirty years.  He also won many "amateur" awards for his impressionist, luminous landscapes, coastals and seascapes including six first prizes at the Monterey County Fair between 1939 and 1947.

Meanwhile, he moved to Pacific Grove with his wife and their teen-age son, and he did much painting at Point Lobos Reserve and other places around Monterey Bay. He turned mostly to oils because his arms did not have the reflexes for watercolors, and gradually as his left arm got stronger, he painted larger and larger paintings.  He had the habit of recording on the backs of his paintings the names of the people who commented positively about the work, and many of his paintings had long lists.

He died in Carmel on July 31, 1959.

The painting estate of Albert De Rome remained relatively unknown to scholars and collectors until 1988 when Walter Nelson-Rees published a biography about him, Albert Thomas DeRome, 1885-1959.  Tragically many possible sales and subsequent interest stirred by that book were thwarted by the Oakland fires in 1990 when many of his paintings burned.

Sources include:
Deborah Gilbert, 'Rediscovering Albert Thomas De Rome', American Art Review, April 2005
atderome.com
Edan Hughes, Artists in California, 1786-1940
Peter Hastings Falk (editor), Who Was Who in American Art

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in San Luis Obispo County, CA on June 26, 1885 .  In his youth DeRome worked at the Congress Spring Hotel in Saratoga, and in San Francisco at the Palace Hotel and at his uncle's Globe Foundry.  He studied art at the Mark Hopkins Institute under Mathews, Stanton, and Latimer.  He applied his art initially to political cartoons and commercial ventures.   His close friends and sketching partners included  painters Wm Keith, Carlos Hittell, Will Sparks, Frank M. Moore, Percy Gray, Frank H. Myers, and Gunnar Widforss.  From 1915-31 he painted in Nevada, Arizona, and throughout California.  Following a serious auto accident in 1931, DeRome gradually recovered the ability to paint; however, an insurance policy prevented him from selling his work or exhibiting as a professional artist.  He did exhibit as an "amateur" in California, gaining recognition and several first prizes.  He often would give his paintings to friends and relatives in exchange for favors.  An Impressionist, his work includes luminous landscapes and seascapes in oil and watercolor.  DeRome spent his later years on the Monterey Peninsula.  He died in Carmel on July 31, 1959. 

Member:  Carmel AA; CCAC (trustee). 

Exh:  Monterey Co. Fairs; Calif. State Fairs; Santa Cruz Art League; Oakland Art Gallery, 1944; UC Santa Cruz, 1985; Gump's (SF), 1986-87 (solo); Carmel AA, 1987.  
Source:
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
BC; Albert T. DeRome by Walter Nelson-Rees.
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 Jeffrey Morseburg:
Albert DeRome is known for the jewel-like paintings he did of the California coast, especially for scenes of Carmel, Big Sur and Pt. Lobos.   De Rome was born in Cayucos, California so his interest in painting the coastal environment came to him naturally.  Because he was artistically gifted he moved to San Francisco where he studied under the legendary Arthur Matthews, then the dean of Bay Area painters. De Rome also studied under Lorenzo Latimar and John Stanton.   To support himself he worked at his uncle’s Globe Foundry.  Soon De Rome found work doing political cartoons for the San Jose Mercury and designing signs, posters and even billboards for an advertising firm.  He also began painting plein-air watercolors around Oakland and the Bay Area and between 1915 and 1931 he made many sketching trips to the Southwest with other painters.

To make ends meet during the early years of the Great Depression De Rome began working as a sales manager for a candy company, a job that required extensive travel by automobile.  In 1931 he was almost killed in a head on collision and after eight months of hospitalization and a years of convalescence he was able to gradually return to painting.  However, because of the terms of his insurance settlement he was no longer able to earn side income and so he could continue to paint and exhibit his works but not sell them.  Thus he began the unusual practice of giving his paintings away.  For the rest of his life he gave away one painting each month to a fortunate friend or acquaintance.

After his convalescence De Rome and his family moved to Pacific Grove, which he regarded as a painter’s paradise.   In the years after his accident he did not have the strength to paint large works and so he became known for his small plein-air oils of the Monterey Peninsula, many of them in the 6” x 8” size. Gradually, as his strength returned he began painting larger works.   De Rome was an eccentric painter and he inscribed many of his paintings, either to the person he gave the painting to or often with the comments that viewers made about the scene when they witnessed him painting it on the peninsula!

After De Rome’s death, the pioneering and prolific collectors Walter Nelson-Rees and James Coran rediscovered him.   Nelson-Rees wrote a wonderful account of his life which was published as a large format book.  Unfortunately, the tremendous collection of De Rome’s work that Nelson-Rees and Coran had assembled was destroyed in the wind driven maelstrom of the Oakland fires of 1990.  Thus, a large portion of De Rome’s artistic production was destroyed in a few short minutes, making his works much rarer than they deserve to be.

Jeffrey Morseburg
copyright 2009

Biography from William A. Karges Fine Art - Beverly Hills:
Albert DeRome was born in Cayucos, California, in 1885. His art studies were at the Mark Hopkins Institute in San Francisco. Following his studies, DeRome actively traveled, painting throughout California.

In 1931 DeRome suffered a serious auto accident from which he eventually recovered. An insurance settlement stipulated that he could no longer work as a professional artist. DeRome continued to paint and exhibit as an amateur, and would frequently trade his paintings for goods and services in Pacific Grove, California, where he settled.

The majority of DeRome’s works were small-scale Impressionist  coastal scenes done along the dunes of Monterey Bay.

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at registrar@AskART.com.


Albert De Rome is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Painters of Grand Canyon

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