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 Benjamin Willard Sears  (1846 - 1905)

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Lived/Active: California/Connecticut      Known for: landscape, marine

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Ad Code: 3
Benjamin Willard Sears
An example of work by Benjamin Willard Sears
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
Biography from Crocker Art Museum Store:
Painter. Born in Guilford, CT on May 16, 1846. Searss father had come to California in 1852 and followed placer mining in the vicinity of Sonora. Ben and his two brothers made the trip to Sonora via Panama in 1862. He came to San Francisco in 1868 and worked as a photographer in several galleries until the early 1870s when he switched to oil painting. He spent a great deal of time in the studios of various painters where he may have learned to paint by observing the techniques of these artists. He left San Francisco in 1878 and returned to Sonora, working for a short while as a sketch artist for the U.S. Signal Coast Survey which took him all over northern California. While in San Francisco Sears had painted mostly nocturnes and inshore marine views, but after his return to Sonora, he concentrated on landscapes of the Sierra Nevada, Yosemite and Tuolumne County. Poor and with a wife and five children to support, Sears was often compelled to paint on whatever surfaces were available to him for want of canvases (i.e., door panels, pie tins, etc.) The signature on his paintings was most often the letter B overlayed with the letter 5; in his later years his work became paler and bluer. He died on a sketching trip in Pacific Grove, CA on Nov. 18, 1905 and was buried in Sonora. Approximately 200 of his paintings are extant. Exh: SFAA, 1873-75, 1902-05; Newhall & Co. (SF), 1877 (solo); Mechanics' Inst. (SF), 1878; Calif. State Fair, 1890; Alaska-Yukon Expo (Seattle), 1909; Society of Calif. Pioneers, 1965. In: CHS; Oakland Museum; CSL; Society of Calif. Pioneers; Tuolumne County Historical Society. History of the Pacific Coast Metropolis, 1906, vol. 2, p. 63; Census; SF Chronicle, 5-16-1965.
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.

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