Foggy Morning Near San Rafael, 1881Julian Walbridge Rix (American, 1850–1903)
Born in Peacham, Vermont, Julian Walbridge Rix came to California as a toddler. When his mother died four years later, he was sent back to Peacham to live with relatives, but after finishing his education in the East, he returned to San Francisco where his father was a well-known court judge.
Largely self taught, Rix attracted the attention of established artists such as Thomas Hill, whose informal criticisms of his early paintings contributed to his artistic education. Rix was also able to study briefly with Virgil Williams at the California School of Design and continued his informal studies with Raymond Dabb Yelland, Jules Tavernier, and Joseph Strong, artists he worked closely with on the Monterey Peninsula.
Rix became one of the first and most significant practitioners of the French Barbizon style in California. Instead of grandiose subjects like the Sierra and Yosemite, he preferred intimate scenes rendered with a looser paint handling. He frequently worked outdoors, producing oil sketches that captured the immediacy of the moment and then produced the finished work back in his studio, muting his earlier impressions under softer lighting conditions, twilight, and fog. Foggy Morning near San Rafael, painted shortly before the artist left California to settle permanently in the East, is characterized by broad brushwork and a moody atmosphere that allowed Rix to emphasize the poetic nature of his subject.
Rix established a studio in New York City and in Paterson, New Jersey. From these locales he painted scenes of the surrounding landscape. He never completely abandoned his connections to California, however, and continued to make periodic visits and send work back for exhibition until his death.