San Francisco

Henri Lebasque, William Keith and Thaddeus Welch

Maxwell Galleries

For the most part this is an exhibition of period paintings from the gallery’s backlog of run-of-the-mill dealer’s items intermingled with a few works by contemporary artists who have had featured exhibitions here during the past year. The preponderance of wall space is, however, devoted to minor French and American genre painters of the turn of the century, also-ran Impressionists and a few diehard followers of Barbizon traditions. The eye-catcher on the main floor is a richly painted, buoyantly colorful still life of a fan and a bowl of fruit against an ornate Oriental tapestry by Henri Lebasque (1865–1937). Outstanding downstairs are a fine quasi-Barbizon rendering of a Monterey landscape by William Keith and a bucolic scene entitled “Marin County” by Thaddeus Welch. Welch was born in Indiana in 1844 and was taken by his parents to Oregon in 1847. In 1866 the young Welch settled in California as a printer, but a year later traveled to Europe to study painting, first in Munich and later in Paris. Returning to the United States Welch lived for a time in Boston and in New York and finally came back to California in 1892 to devote himself to landscape painting until his death in 1919. Much is written in popular surveys of the history of American art on the early East Coast painters, the New England primitives, the professional portraitists and marine painters of the Colonial and Revolutionary eras, the Hudson River landscapists. Little, however, has been collected in museums or popularly documented surveys concerning the primitive painters among the covered wagon era migrants to the West or of men like Welch, in the first generation of professional painters in the pioneer communities.

Palmer D. French