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William Keith

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Moonlight Landscape

early 20th Century
20th Century
20 3/4 in. x 25 1/2 in. (52.71 cm x 64.77 cm)

William Keith, American, (1838–1911)

Object Type: Paintings
Creation Place: North America, United States, California
Medium and Support: Oil on canvas
Accession Number: 1964.11.duplicate number
One of the leading artists in San Francisco during the 19th century, William Keith is best known for his impact on preserving and sharing the California landscape through painting. In 1872, Keith traveled to Yosemite Valley with a letter of introduction to environmentalist John Muir and the two Scottish immigrants became deep friends for the next 38 years. His love of nature was a common thread throughout his painting career, and one of several bonds between him and Muir, the founder of the Sierra Club and "father" of the National Parks system.

Muir called Keith a "poet-painter," referring to the lyrical quality in Keith's art. His style gradually evolved from accurate descriptions of specific places to the use of landscape elements to express and evoke feelings. In the 1870s, Keith had established his reputation as a painter of grand panoramic landscapes, often of the High Sierra and sometimes as large as six by ten feet. This type of painting could serve both as a document of a specific locale and as an homage to the impressive American wilderness. By the 1890s, Keith typically painted forest glades at sunset or moonlit, that evoke religious overtones. He believed that his late, dark, indistinct works, such as Moonlight Landscape, better suggested the spiritual reality that lay beyond the surface forms of nature.

Exhibition List
This object was included in the following exhibitions:

  • Frame Dimensions: 37 1/2 in. x 42 1/2 in. x 4 1/4 in. (95.25 cm x 107.95 cm x 10.8 cm)
  • Canvas Dimensions: 20 3/4 x 25 1/2 in. (527.05 x 647.7 mm)

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