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 Zarh Pritchard  (1866 - 1956)

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Lived/Active: New York/California      Known for: underwater scenes, landscape

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Ad Code: 4
Zarh Pritchard
from Auction House Records.
Sierra Nevada, California
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Madras, India on March 26, 1866.  At age ten Pritchard was sent to school in Scotland.  He began sketching underwater subjects there at an early age while playing in the Firth of Forth.  After  designing a gown for Sarah Bernhardt with an underwater theme, he began selling his works.  After a period in Tahiti, he arrived in San Francisco in 1906 attempting to sell his paintings.  Having lost 50 paintings in the earthquake and fire, he then lived in Pasadena for the next six years.  Pritchard went by the name Walter until 1909 and then changed his first name to Zarh.  In 1913 he built a home in San Diego County but traveled and exhibited extensively (New York, Japan, Paris, Brazil, London).  Leaving California in 1949, he moved to Austin, TX where he hoped to teach art at the University.  Due to his age he was unable and died there penniless on Aug. 29, 1956.

Exh:  Paul Elder Gallery (SF), 1906; American Museum of Natural History, 1916; Galeries Georges Petit (Paris), 1921; Palace Hotel (Rio de Janeiro), 1922; Nicholson Gallery (Pasadena), 1926.  In:  Musée Oceanographique (Monaco); Scripps Inst. (La Jolla); Cleveland Museum of Natural History.
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
SCA; Take Me Under the Sea by Thomas Burgess.
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 Douglas Frazer Fine Art, Ltd.:
A renowned painter of underwater scenes, Walter Howlison (Zarh) Pritchard was born in Madras, India to Harriett Moore and Thomas Pritchard. The artist's mother was born in India, while his father was born in Dublin and came from a long line of soldiers. Pritchard's parents expected him to take up a profession in the military. However, from his earliest recollections Pritchard knew he had two loves, art and the sea.

When he was ten, Pritchard's parents sent him to boarding school in Edinburgh. He began sketching underwater subjects there at an early age while playing in the Firth of Forth and diving in the waters of Portobello, a small Scottish fishing village. At the age of eighteen Pritchard began to create his first undersea views. Occasionally he would make memory sketches. Most often he would dive 30-40 times to observe a scene, come to the surface, swim hurriedly ashore, and try to draw it from memory.

After designing a dress for Sarah Bernhardt with an underwater theme, Pritchard began selling his works. After a period in Tahiti where he developed a method for actually painting underwater on leather soaked in boiled down flax, he arrived in San Francisco in 1906 attempting to sell his paintings. However, a year's worth of his work was lost in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, and Pritchard was forced to start over, this time in Los Angeles. He was in and out of Los Angeles until 1937, spending his time traveling between temporary residences in America and foreign lands. Zarh Pritchard died in Austin, Texas on August 29, 1956 of complications from broncho-pneumonia.

Works by Pritchard were exhibited at the American Museum of Natural History in 1916; Galeries Georges Petit, Paris in 1921; Palace Hotel, Rio de Janeiro in 1922; Grace Nicholson Galleries, Pasadena in 1926. His works are currently held at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and at Scripps Institute.
Until about 1909, he went by the name Walter and then changed his first name to Zahr. (Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"

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