Jules Tavernier (American (born France), 1844-1889)
Marin Sunset, back of Petaluma, early 1880s
Oil on canvas 26 1/2 in. x 30 in. (67.31 cm x 76.2 cm)
Crocker Art Museum, gift of Dr. Robert L. and Mrs. Sansa O'Connor Alexander1980.5 Buy a print
Influenced by painters working in Barbizon, a small village in the Fontainebleau Forest outside of Paris, Jules Tavernier adapted their aesthetic to California. Until Tavernier, California’s premier landscape painters celebrated the state’s grandeur, creating panoramic views of the Sierra Nevada and Yosemite. Although Tavernier occasionally painted such scenes when finances required him to do so, he preferred more intimate views of nature rendered with a free and spontaneous handling of paint. Tavernier was born in Paris and began formal artistic training as a teenager. He studied privately for four years with Félix Barrias, a teacher at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and by 1865 had progressed enough to have two paintings accepted into the Paris Salon. During the Franco-Prussian War, he served as an artist-correspondent. After the armistice was signed in February 1871, he left France for England and found work as an illustrator. He arrived in the United States later that year. Tavernier settled in New York, but left when Harper’s Weekly engaged him to undertake a transcontinental sketching assignment with fellow Frenchman Paul Frenzeny. The pair captured scenes throughout the West and finally arrived in San Francisco in the summer of 1874. Just a few months later, Tavernier set off for the Monterey Peninsula. He lived and painted there for three years, founding the peninsula’s art colony, and then returned to San Francisco and painted scenes of the surrounding region. Ultimately, he moved to Hawaii, painted volcanoes, and died at age forty-five. These paintings show Tavernier’s skill at depicting two very different types of landscape. The Yosemite view acknowledges California’s artistic tradition through a sweeping vista of untamed nature. The Marin County scene is more domestic, including a figure, bonfire, and split-rail fence, each reinforcing the fact that this bit of California terrain is no longer completely wild.