“Sand Dunes” (Carmel, California) by Henry Joseph Breuer
Pickup currently unavailable
Born in Philadelphia, Henry Joseph Breuer studied art during the 1870s in Buffalo, New York. Breuer later attended the Art Academy in Cincinnati, working at the same time as a decorator of pottery at the Rockwood Pottery Company. Following that, he worked for five years as both a lithographer and mural painter in New York. During his time in New York he visited San Francisco on two occasions and became enamored by the beauty of the California coast.
In 1888 Breuer moved to San Francisco, and worked as art editor and illustrator for both the San Francisco Chronicle and California magazine. He was an active member of the thriving art community in San Francisco, and was an active exhibitor of both the San Francisco Art Association and The Bohemian Club. Many successful artists were working in San Francisco at that time, including Albert Bierstadt.
In 1893, Breuer traveled to London and Paris, and was impressed by the works of the Barbizon school of artists, especially Corot. Breuer's first major exhibition was held at Keppel's Gallery, Chicago, in 1895. The landscape paintings shown had been influenced by the Barbizon style, and were described as “bathed in vapory, opalescent atmosphere of twilight.”
Breuer continued to appreciate the new style of the time, called plein air. Plein air painters, influenced by the Barbizon school and Impressionists, painted their works out doors, in a loose painting style, and conveyed a sense of intense open air. Breuer often traveled extensively throughout the Pacific Coast in search of grand, new landscapes to paint. He rigged a studio wagon drawn by two horses, and he and his wife would travel up and down the Pacific coasts and Sierras from Oregon to Southern California, often trading paintings for provisions. During these trips, Breuer would make numerous studies and sketches on location from which he would later produce a finished painting.
By 1905 Breuer was considered one of the best landscape painters in the United States, and actively exhibited and sold his work. That year, he exhibited his recently completed plein air landscape paintings at Schussler's Gallery in San Francisco. These large, bold works were described as having, “that crystal atmosphere that belongs to California after a rinsing rain.”
By 1915, Breuer's reputation as a great landscape painter grew to the international level. In 1915, after a massive rebuilding of almost the entire city due to the earthquake and fires of 1906, San Francisco held a major World's Fair at the current site of The Palace of Fine Arts. For the first time, plein air painters of California had their work shown along side important paintings by artists from all over the world, were recognized as serious artists. A great accomplishment for the plein air painters must have been Breuer earning a gold medal at the fair for his “Santa Inez Mountains” painting. Previously, Breuer had also earned prizes for his work from The Bohemian Club and the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition held in Seattle.
Works by Breuer can be viewed at the Oakland Museum, Heart Art Gallery at St. Mary's College, and the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento.