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 Ransome Gillet Holdredge  (1836 - 1899)

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Lived/Active: California      Known for: idealized landscape, Indian life, and marine painting

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Ransome Gillet Holdredge
from Auction House Records.
Indian Encampment in the Sierras
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in New York City in 1836, Ransome Holdredge came to California via the Isthmus of Panama in 1858 and worked as a draftsman at the Mare Island Naval Yard. His paintings of the 1860s and early 1870s were signed "Holdridge" and were done in the realistic style of the Hudson River School.

During this period he maintained a studio in San Francisco's Donahoe-Kelly Bank Bldg and exhibited locally.  In 1874 he and Hiram Bloomer held a joint sale of their paintings to finance European studies.  He left in that year and spent about two years studying in France.

His obituary states that he was a field artist for Scribner's publications and was with Major Reno's troops at the time of the Custer massacre in 1876. 

After his studies in France, he returned to San Francisco with a distinctly different style. Paintings done after that time show the influence of the Barbizon School and were signed "Holdredge."

His works were in great demand during his lifetime, received rave reviews by the local press, and were often considered superior to those done by William Keith.  Holdredge traveled extensively throughout the Northwest, Southwest, the Rockies and western Canada, often living for long periods of time among the various Indian tribes.

Due to his malnutrition and alcoholism, his paintings done during the latter part of his life were not of good quality.  Like his friend Jules Tavernier, he made considerable money as an artist but did not manage his money well.  He died penniless at the Alameda County (CA) Infirmary in April 1899 and was buried at public expense.

ASSOCIATIONS
San Francisco Art Association (cofounder)
Bohemian Club

EXHIBITIONS
California State Fair, 1881-83
Mechanics' Institute (SF), 1868, 1880, 1886

COLLECTIONS
Bohemian Club
Oakland Museum
Society of California Pioneers
Orange County Museum
California Historical Society
Nevada Museum (Reno)
Bancroft Library (UC Berkeley)
Crocker Museum (Sacramento)
Oregon Historical Society
Source:
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
California State Library (Sacramento); Artists of the American West (Samuels); American Western Art (Harmsen); The West as Art; History & Ideals of American Art (Neuhaus); California Landscape Painting 1860-1885; SF Call, 4-16-1899 (obituary).
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 Thomas Nygard Gallery:
Ransome Holdredge was an itinerant painter who widely traveled in the Pacific Northwest while living with the Native Americans.  He was best known for a career painting Indian genre in idealistic landscapes.

Holdredge was born in New York City in 1836.  He became a resident of San Francisco in the 1850's, where he worked as a draftsman and with the Mare Island Navy Yard.  After his service in the Navy, he passed through the Northwest painting amongst the Indians.

In 1874, he began two years of study in France where he was significantly influenced by the Barbizon School of Impressionist painters.  Holdredge already had a degree of Hudson River School training before his stay in Europe.  Instead of canvases that emphasized the splendor of nature and Indians in serene existence, the Barbizons expounded on a countrified, French Impressionistic style of landscape.

Upon his return to San Francisco his highly unembellished style had become more painterly.  Back in California and the Bay region he won acclaim and notoriety as a superb painter.  His work was even considered to be better than that of the famous William Keith.  In California he received recognition for his works of Vernal Falls and other Sierra Views, in addition to Bay Area scenes.  Holdredge also picked up work as a staff artist at the Scribner's magazine and was said to have covered the Custer Massacre.  He was on assignment with further U.S. troops near the Little Big Horn area when the General was killed.  Holdredge was a co-founder of the San Francisco Art Association and a member of the Bohemian Club.

During the 1880's Holdredge traveled the American West extensively, living and painting for long periods amongst various Indian tribes in Northern California, Oregon, Washington and Northern Canada.  Paintings from this time period often times depict mountain and prairie landscapes with Indians as well as Native American portraits.  He was also known to have produced a small number of seascapes during this period.

Although Ransom Holdredge won wide acclaim as an artist in San Francisco during the 1880's, placing him on par with other distinguished painters, his abilities declined significantly in the 1890's due to alcoholism.  He died in poverty in April of 1899 in Almeda County Infirmary from alcoholism and malnutrition.  His earlier works from the 1860's and 1870's were usually signed with only his last name.

Exhibitions:
Portland Mechanics Fair, University of Oregon, Portland, Oregon, 1959
Oregon Historical Society, Portland, Oregon (90)

Collections:
Bohemian Club, San Francisco, California
California State Library, Sacramento, California
Dr. & Mrs. Bruce Friedman Collection, San Francisco Bay area
Oakland Museum, Oakland, California
Oregon Historical Society, Portland, Oregon
Stenzel Collection
University of California, Berkeley, California

Submitted February 2004


Biography from William A. Karges Fine Art - Beverly Hills:
Ransom Holdredge was born in New York in 1836 and was a resident of San Francisco by 1860, where he had a studio and supplemented his income by working as a draftsman.

In 1874 he left for Europe to study in Paris, where he fell under the influence of the Barbizon artists.  Upon his return to San Francisco his highly literal style had become more moody and painterly.  He exhibited to acclaim and commercial success for many years, traveling and painting throughout the Northwest.

He eventually succumbed to his own demons, dying of alcoholism in Oakland, California, in 1899.

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


Ransome Holdredge is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Hudson River School Painters



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William Keith
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