The High Sierras, circa 1929.
Paul Lauritz (American, born Norway, 1889–1975)
Oil on canvas, 46 1/8 x 50 1/4 in. Crocker Art Museum Purchase, Melza and Ted Barr Collection, 2008.81.

Born in Larvik, Norway, Paul Lauritz began his art career by paying careful attention to the many artists who came to paint in his picturesque hometown. He began his formal training at the Larvik Art School and then, at age 16, left for Vancouver, Canada. He later moved to Portland, Oregon, where he worked as a commercial artist. From there, he went to Alaska with his wife and brother and worked in a gold mine. He also befriended artist Sydney Laurence, who influenced his work.

With an “air of the frontier” clinging to him, Lauritz left Alaska in 1920 and moved to Los Angeles where he opened a studio. (1) He began painting portraits, but quickly changed his focus to marine and landscape views. He became an important member of the local art community, taught at the Chouinard and the Otis Art Institutes, and served as president of the California Art Club.

In addition to painting many scenes of Southern California, Lauritz traveled widely, painting in the northern part of the state, working in Mexico, and rendering the deserts of Nevada, Colorado, and Arizona. He also painted the Sierra and was “particularly happy in finding rhythmical and decorative motives among those peaks.”(2) Although he produced drawings and oil sketches outdoors, he completed his large canvases back in the studio. He applied textural pigment with large brushes and palette knives, capturing the fleeting shadows, pastel colors and thinning atmosphere of higher elevations through cursory strokes and broad swathes of paint.

(1) Arthur Millier, “Our Artists in Person: No. 30 Paul Lauritz,” Los Angeles Times, 5 January 1931.

2. Ibid.

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