Friday 4 November 2011

Henry Percy Gray - part 1

Henry Percy Gray (1869-1952) was an American painter known for his pastoral depictions of the Northern California landscape. Gray was born into a San Francisco family endowed with a broad literary and artistic background. He studied under Arthur Frank Mathews at the San Francisco School of Design and later under William Merritt Chase (blog post on Chase to come at some point soon). While he had some early Impressionistic tendencies, his primary expression was under the Tonalism Mathews had brought back from Paris.
From there he went on to become a newspaper illustrator, obtaining a job with the New York Journal. In New York he also studied at the Art Students League. He was dispatched from New York to cover the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, but decided to remain in his native city where he would then take up his painting career.

Gray's first pieces, headland seascapes, were exhibited in 1907; soon thereafter he addressed in watercolour eucalyptus groves and fields of California wildflowers. These subjects would become signatures of his work. Originally Gray's works were oils; however, he eventually developed an allergy to oil paints, and therefore switched to using watercolours as his primary medium.
From early on the critics marvelled at his ability to infuse realistic depictions of nature with a mystical and poetic quality. He was clearly applying the precepts of his mentor William Merritt Chase in the exaggeration of light and colour.

From 1912 to 1923 Gray lived in Burlingame, California about twenty miles south of San Francisco, while keeping his studio in the city itself. At the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition he won a bronze medal for his watercolour Out of the Desert, Oregon. Having been a bachelor for 53 years, Gray surprised his friends by marrying. He and his bride moved to the Bonificio Adobe in Monterey, where seascapes and cypress dominated his later works. In 1939 the Grays sold their adobe and moved to San Francisco. Restless for the out of doors, Gray and his wife moved to San Anselmo at the base of Mount Tamalpais in 1941. After ten years in Marin County, his wife died and he returned to San Francisco. Gray died in 1952.

I’m afraid I don’t have the dates for many of Gray’s works.

1907 San Francisco Bay from the Alameda Hills 
watercolour 31 x 36 cm

1909 Tree on a Hillside 
watercolour 33 x 28 cm

1918 California Landscape 
oil on canvas 48 x 71 cm

1924 Cypress Trees Near Point Lobos 
watercolour 40 x 50 cm

1926 Rogue River Gorge 
watercolour 56 x 41 cm

1926 Two Oaks 

1927 Path to the Blue Mountains 

1930 Weathered Oak (detail) 
watercolour and gouache 25 x 36 cm

c1934 Corral de Tierra 
watercolour 33 x 48 cm

Aetna Springs, California 
watercolour 31 x 41 cm

Aetna Springs, California 
watercolour 31 x 41 cm

Aetna Springs, California 
watercolour 51 x 41 cm

Aetna Springs, California 
watercolour 51 x 41 cm

Autumn Dunes 
watercolour 31 x 41 cm

California Ranch 
watercolour 36 x 46 cm

Early Meadow Landscape 
watercolour 26 x 33 cm

Entrance to the Golden Gate 
watercolour 41 x 51 cm

Flower Field Carmel Valley 
watercolour 41 x 51 cm

Guardian Oak 
etching 13 x 16 cm

Into the Valley 

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