Arader Galleries

William Keith. Belvedere Cove and Mount Tam. 1867.

$ 24,000.00

WILLIAM KEITH (1838-1911)

Belvedere Cove and Mount Tam

Circa 1867

Watercolor on paper

Signed lower left

Sheet Size 19” x 22”; Framed Size:  31” x 27.5”


This exquisite watercolor on paper depicts Belvedere Cove and Mount Tamalpais  (Mt. Tam) from the perspective of Angel Island, just north of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. The small island seen in the background is Corinthian Island, which today is now connected to the mainland. Created by the renowned California painter, William Keith (1838-1911) at the height of his career as a watercolorist in 1867 (few of his watercolors were dated), just before he shifted his focus primarily to oils (he would later have mid and late watercolor periods, 1885-1890 and from 1890 until his death in 1911, respectively), this painting also includes a possible self-portrait of the artist in the foreground. The work measures 19” x 22”, making it one of his largest known watercolors.    


William Keith was born in Scotland in 1838. At age 12 he emigrated in 1850 with his family to New York, where despite his artistic inclinations he was apprenticed in 1856 to a wood engraver. As a young man, in 1859 he moved westward, settling in San Francisco, where he found work as an engraver. His first exhibit of watercolors was held in San Francisco in 1866 and from that point forward he made his sole livelihood painting. He met naturalist John Muir, a fellow Scotsman, in Yosemite Valley in 1872 and although they had diverse views on many issues, the two men shared the same birth year and forged a close friendship that spanned four decades until Keith’s death in Berkeley, CA in 1911. Keith is believed to have produced some 4,000 paintings – as many as 2,000 of these works were lost during the great San Francisco fire of 1906 when the artist’s studio burnt to the ground.


William Keith (1838-1911) dubbed “the Great Landscape Painter” by his contemporaries is renowned for his oil paintings of majestic California landscapes – it was said by newspapers of the time that he was “an epic in diligence” and that “no mental picture escapes him” but his watercolors, despite their mastery, are less well known. This painting showcases the essential Keith watercolor: It is a fine example of the artist’s keen ability and skill, emphasizing the delicacy and freshness that is unique to this medium.