William Smith Jewett – American Artist

An oil on canvas painting by William Smith Jewett. image courtesy of Harvey Clar Auction Galleries.

p4A ItemID B172184
William Smith Jewett, A View of Yosemite, oil on canvas painting

p4A ItemID D9729164
Oil on canvas painting attributed to William Smith Jewett, portrait of captain Olev, dated 1843

p4A ItemID E8899414

William Smith Jewett (American, 1812 to 1873)

Jewett was active as a portrait painter in New York city from 1833 to 1849, during which time he exhibited at the American Art-Union and at the National Academy, where he was elected an Associate. He abandoned a promising career in NYC when he embarked with the “forty-niners” in May 1849, to seek his fortune in San Francisco. Though he may have intended to make his fortune in business or mining in California, he instead became California’s first professional portrait painter. He maintained studios in both San Francisco (1850 to 1869) and in Sacramento (1850to 1855) and turned out many landscapes and subject paintings as well as portraits.

In 1850 he was commissioned by Andrew Jackson Grayson to commemorate his family’s arrival in California. This painting, The Promised Land-The Grayson Family, 1850, which combines his talent for painting figures with extreme accuracy, with his ability to paint extensive landscapes, is now in the Daniel J. Terra collection at the Terra Museum of Art in Chicago. His paintings are also in collections at the Autry Museum of Western Heritage in Los Angeles, the Oakland Museum of California and the Newark Museum, New Jersey.

Information courtesy of Shannon’s Fine Art Auctioneers, October 2009.


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