Brought to New York City in 1850, William Keith was apprenticed to a wood engraver in 1856 working for "Harper’s" magazine. In 1858 (or 1859) he visited California for "Harper’s" and then after a trip to Great Britain, settled in California as an engraver in 1862. He began exhibiting paintings in 1864 in San Francisco where he opened his studio, after having been taught painting by his wife. The Northern Pacific Railroad commissioned him to do landscape paintings along its route about 1868. In 1869-70 he studied in Dusseldorf, Germany; in 1871-72, he shared a studio in Boston with William Hahn; and in 1872, he returned to California. A nature lover, he found there was “scarcely a mountain in three-fourths of California where he had not kept vigil for days as a time, studying every detail of color, flower, rock, forge, shadow, and sunshine.” Keith became Thomas Hill’s rival in monumental landscapes, saying, “I’d be satisfied if I could reach the power and success of Tom Hill.” When George Inness visited California in 1890, he worked in Keith’s studio for many weeks, and they made sketching trips together. The result for Keith was an influenced style reflecting the subjective rather than the spectacular. His "Majesty of the Oaks" painting sold at auction in New York City in 1903 for $2,300., and about the same time "Glory of the Heaven" sold at auction in San Francisco for $12,000. Of medium height with unruly curly hair, Keith had his studio next to the live oaks on the Berkeley campus where it was the center of the university-oriented California culture. The 1906 earthquake and fire destroyed 2,000 of Keith’s works.
Anna Althea Hills was born January 28, 1882 in Ravenna, Ohio. She studied at the Chicago Art Institute; Cooper Union Art School in New York City; she worked with Arthur Dow (1857-1922) and later studied at the Academie Julian in Paris. While in Europe she studied with John Noble Barlow (1861-1917). In 1912 she moved to Laguna Beach, California becoming a leading member of the Laguna Beach art community. She was an active member of the California Art Club, held a membership at the Washington Watercolor Club and served at the Laguna Beach Art Association as president from 1922 to 1925 and from 1927 to 1930. Hills was highly regarded as an art teacher and encouraged the study of the visual arts at the local public schools. Captivated and inspired by her new surroundings, she created atmospheric impressionist landscapes showing a reverence and appreciation of nature. The subjects of her plein-air landscapes varied from treescapes, the Laguna Beach coastline, Mission San Juan Capistrano, the vast Southern California and Arizona deserts, Santa Ana Canyon, arroyos and interior scenes. Hills won the Bronze Medal at the Panama-California Exposition, San Diego in 1915; the Bronze Medal at the California State Fair, 1919; and the Landscape Prize at the Laguna Beach Art Association, 1922, 1923. She died at the early age of forty-eight on June 13, 1930 in Laguna Beach, California.
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A popular landscape painter, especially of golden toned landscapes that conveyed fall and winter seasons, Bruce Crane was strongly influenced by the French Barbizon school of painting and had a studio for many years in Old Lyme, Connecticut. He also painted on Long Island, the Catskills, and the Adirondacks. In 1882, he was in France at the colony at Grez-sur-Loring with Birge Harrison, Kenyon Cox, and Alexander Wyant, but he maintained a studio in New York City until he moved to Bronxville in 1914. He took early art lessons from Alexander Wyant in New York City and then studied in Europe. He became a member of the National Academy of Design, the American Water Color Society, the Salmagundi Club, the Society of American Artists, and the Grand Central Art Galleries. One of his great admirers was J. Francis Murphy with whom his work has often been compared. Source: David Michael Zellman, "Three Hundred Years of American Art" Peter Falk, "Who Was Who in American Art"